Canadian businessman Michael Lai is expanding his Onyx Group of Cos. in North America and China, forging ahead in the fast-growing wood-plastic composite industry.
Toronto-based Onyx recently opened a window and door profile manufacturing plant in Toronto, Lai said at Plast-Ex 2007, held May 1-3 in Toronto. The 40,000-square-foot plant is expecting annual sales of about US$20 million. China native Lai, who is president of Onyx, said the new plant makes more than 50 types of PVC and wood-plastic composite profiles. Production has started with 35 employees on three shifts.
Meanwhile, the company is relocating its China extrusion operation, Alpine Enviro-Material Technology Inc., from Shanghai to Dalian. The unit has 63 extrusion lines making composite profiles.
Alpine is China's largest maker of wood-plastic composite products, according to Lai. Onyx invested 100 million yuan (US$13 million) in Alpine, which is expected to reach annual capacity of 265 million pounds.
Rising cost in Shanghai is the major reason for transferring a large-scale plant some 1,250 miles away. ``It depends on the business type. Shanghai is too expensive for processors,'' Lai said.
But Onyx has no intention of moving its extrusion equipment subsidiary, Shanghai Onyx Machinery Inc. Lai said the machinery business has a different structure: lower labor costs and higher capital content. It makes sense for Shanghai Onyx to stay there, he said.
Onyx was selected to be the sole designer and supplier for the Canadian Innovation project at the University of Toronto, and provided the biofiber composite extrusion and injection molding center with machinery and tooling. The center opened in 2006.
Onyx started selling conical twin-screw extruders for wood-plastic composites in China in 2000.
``We came up with the new machine by changing the screw design, die and vacuum system,'' Lai said. Now China is home to more than 40 wood-plastic composite factories, Lai said.
Outside of the Chinese market, Onyx also supplied a turnkey project for making PVC window and door profiles to a manufacturer in Russia.
Currently, Onyx is testing a machine for making compression molded pallets from wood-plastic composites, Lai said.
Onyx Group consists of Onyx Extrusion Technology Inc., Onyx Tooling and Dies Inc., Onyx Granulators Inc., Shanghai Onyx Machinery Inc., Alpine Enviro-Materials Technology Inc. and Casement Window and Door Inc. In addition to the Shanghai and Dalian factories, the group runs a tooling and die shop in Huangshi, China.