Standridge Color Corp. made its NPE debut worthwhile by introducing its first-ever piece of commercial machinery and confirming plans to open a Chinese site within the next year.
The machine is the continuous chaotic advection blender, a ``smart-blending'' machine based on technology licensed from Clemson University. Social Circle, Ga.-based Standridge began making the machines earlier this year and has recorded its first commercial sale, sales and marketing Vice President Hal Wells said at NPE in Chicago, held June 19-23.
The machine ``can take two dissimilar polymers, blend them together and layer them on a nanoscale,'' Wells said.
Standridge is positioned to branch out into commercial machine production, since the firm always has made its own extrusion equipment and machinery.
Standridge's plans for China follow the same strategy that has allowed the firm to open three new North American plants in the past 18 months. In short, Standridge wants to be close to the customers that buy its color concentrates and compounds.
No site has been selected in China, but sales manager Robby Farmer pointed out that material made at the site would be sold for use in China. Currently, Standridge generates about 10 percent of its sales from outside North America, but Farmer said that number is growing.
The new North American sites are in Findlay, Ohio; Newton, Kan.; and Dalton, Ga. Standridge also operates plants in Social Circle and Greensboro, Ga.
Each of the three new plants covers about 35,000 square feet. The Ohio site opened in late 2004. Production at the Newton plant began in late 2005 on five twin-screw lines with 20 employees.
In Dalton, Standridge employs eight and operates three twin-screw lines. Commercial production began in May, and Wells said the firm already has plans to add three more lines there by the end of the year. Standridge then would look to build its own site in Dalton and move from its current leased space.
Substantial sales gains are making this growth a reality for Standridge. The 33-year-old firm posted sales of $192 million in 2005 and is on track to hit the $215 million mark in 2006 - a one-year sales jump of almost 12 percent.
``We're trying to move closer to our customers,'' Wells said, ``We want to provide sudden service and increase our market share.''
When owner Bob Standridge launched the firm in 1973, he was in the business of building and selling control and metering systems for delivering liquid color to plastics. In 1977, his firm began representing a pair of concentrate makers and in 1979 began its own concentrate production.
Over time, the focus of the business shifted from equipment sales to color concentrates. Bob Standridge remains sole owner.
Farmer said the time was right for Standridge to make its NPE debut. The decision was prompted in part by the debut of the blending machine and by increased interest in a line of biodegradable compounds and concentrates based on polylactic acid. Standridge began making its PLA-based products in 2004, but interest has surged as prices for standard resins have increased.
NPE ``is the premiere show for the North American plastics market,'' Farmer said. ``We can see a lot of people just by being here.''