GLS Corp. will open a compounding plant in Suzhou, China, in June, marking the first time the firm has produced material outside the United States.
McHenry, Ill.-based GLS will make a variety of thermoplastic elastomer compounds in an 80,000-square-foot plant in Suzhou. The materials will be used in consumer products, medical goods, housewares and other applications.
``We've been selling into the Asia-Pacific region for more than a decade,'' said GLS marketing director Walt Ripple. ``Our volume growth is such that we need manufacturing capacity there. This will be a global plant, not just serving China, but the whole region.''
GLS makes TPE compounds based on styrenic block copolymers, thermoplastic vulcanizates, thermoplastic polyurethanes and copolyesters. The firm has been a licensed compounder of Kraton-brand SBCs for more than 25 years.
The Suzhou location will shorten lead times for GLS in the region and allow for consistency of production.
``We'll be able to have the same emphasis on the same products,'' Ripple said in an April 10 interview at Plastics News' office in Akron. ``And the site has good proximity to customers and infrastructure. The area has good roads and is close to ports.''
Ripple declined to provide production, cost or employee details for the new plant but said sales growth in China for the overall TPE market has been ``in double digits'' in recent years. Previously, GLS had supplied the region from its original production site in McHenry.
GLS officials indicated in late 2004 that the firm's annual TPE sales then were approaching $100 million, but officials have declined to provide an update since then. The company also operates the Composites One distribution business as well as a transportation unit that includes barge and bulk trucking terminals and a trucking fleet.