Ampacet Corp. has started the new year by opening its first Mexican color and additives concentrates plant, a 40,000-square-foot facility in Queretaro.
``Both the plant and its color lab are structured for quick turnaround, so we can support the packaging market's speed-to-market needs,'' business manager Doug Brownfield said in a news release.
The plant runs several twin-screw extrusion lines, as well as a blending station. Previously, Ampacet customers in Mexico had been supplied from plants in the United States and South America.
The plant will focus on color concentrates based on polyethylene and polypropylene, according to Robert Fielding, senior vice president and general manager of Ampacet's North American unit. Black, white and additive concentrates for Mexican customers still will come from larger plants in the United States. The plant will be able to provide turnaround times of three days or less on color matching and five days or less on order deliveries, Fielding said.
``In the color business, you have to be close to your customer base,'' he said.
The plant's design will allow it to double in size as the business grows. The site currently employs between 15 and 20 but eventually is expected to employ as many as 50.
Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Ampacet now operates 18 plants worldwide. The privately held firm employs 1,400 and has annual sales of more than $625 million, with almost 900 million pounds of concentrate capacity.
Like many concentrate makers and compounders, Ampacet was hit with higher prices for resins, energy and other raw materials in 2005, even though the firm enjoyed sales growth in all regions.
``We tried to pass along as much of the [resin] increases as we could, but they came fairly fast and high,'' Fielding said. ``When prices escalate that much, you can't pass it all along, and that creates margin pressure.''
In mid-2005, Ampacet also increased the size of its color concentrates plant in Rayong, Thailand. That site now covers 110,000 square feet and has annual concentrate capacity of 45 million pounds. The firm is considering locations in India and Russia, but no decision has been made.
Ampacet ranks as one of North America's five largest compounders and concentrates makers, with a market share estimated at 3-4 percent.