Mammoth Chinese injection press maker Ningbo Haitian Group Co. Ltd. has named a new sales and service partner for the U.S. and Canadian markets - Absolute Machinery Corp., a manufacturers' representative in Worcester, Mass.,
The agreement, announced May 23, creates a new organization called Absolute Haitian Corp., which will operate out of Absolute Machinery's 25,000-square-foot facility in Worcester. Absolute Haitian Corp. will focus solely on sales and support for Haitian injection presses.
The companies plan to add regional locations in the central U.S. and West Coast, and in Canada.
Haitian, headquartered in Ningbo, China, says it shipped more than 14,000 injection presses in 2005. The machines, ranging in clamping force from 64-4,400 tons, are sold in more than 50 countries.
The management team for Absolute Haitian includes Mike Ortolano and Nathan Smith, the current co-owners of Absolute Machinery, and Glenn Frohring, the former North American sales manager for injection press supplier Demag Plastics Group of Strongsville, Ohio. Frohring's last day at DPG was May 22.
``The Chinese technology has really come in line with the U.S. market,'' Ortolano said.
News that Haitian is teaming up with Absolute Machinery comes amid confusion about Haitian's 5-year-old North American division, based in Toronto. Haitian recently closed its U.S. warehouse and sales facility in Itasca, Ill. Now the parent company has asked the Toronto division to close down, according to Edwina Wang, the controller there.
Wang, contacted the day after Haitian announced the agreement with Absolute Machinery, said Haitian officials did not tell them about its plans to switch to Absolute - and still have not given any explanation. ``We're still waiting,'' she said. ``We don't know what they're doing.''
Officials of the new Absolute Haitian declined to comment about the Toronto operation.
The Chinese machinery maker opened the Toronto facility in 2001. Under Kingsley Qin, president of the North American division, the company opened the Chicago-area operation in 2004.
Qin did not return numerous telephone calls seeking comment.
Absolute Machinery was founded in 2000. The firm has had two main businesses - representing plastics machinery lines in New England and parts of New York, and selling used machinery nationwide. Absolute Haitian is a separate entity from Absolute Machinery, company officials said.
Even though they are separate firms, Absolute Machinery currently represents Demag Plastics Group - and picking up the Chinese machine line may be causing some friction with DPG.
Brian Bishop, president of Demag Plastics Group's North American operations, said May 24 that DPG had not yet discussed the situation with Absolute Machinery. DPG has exclusive agreements with manufacturers' reps, and Bishop said DPG would not want its equipment ``to blend with'' Haitian-brand machines.
Meanwhile, Ningbo Haitian is making other international news - with planned manufacturing in Germany. A group of investors, including Helmar Franz, Haitian's executive vice president and a member of the board of directors, recently set up a company in SchwÃ¤bisch Gmund, Germany, called Zhafir Plastics Machinery GmbH to make all-electric presses, largely for export to Asia.