Rapid Granulator AB will move its U.S. subsidiary into the Franklin, Pa., factory of sister auxiliary equipment company Conair Group Inc., and close the Rapid Granulator Inc. plant in Rockford, Ill., officials announced May 16.
Conair and Rapid will remain separate, except for manufacturing operations, said Conair President Christopher Keller, who also is president of International Plastics Equipment Group Inc. Conair and Rapid are part of IPEG, based in Cranberry Township, Pa.
``The brand companies of Conair and Rapid have, and will continue to maintain, their own sales, marketing and engineering capabilities and resources, as well as aftermarket support, aftermarket services, as well as spare parts,'' he said.
Rapid Granulator Inc. employs 30 in Rockford, RGI President Kirk Winstead said.
The companies said offers have been made to many Rockford employees to relocate to Franklin or Cranberry Township, a Pittsburgh suburb. Keller said 10 or more people are expected to relocate, including Winstead.
``We will try and bring some direct manufacturing people from the Rockford plant into the Franklin plant, but where there are redundant functions such as planning and administration, no we won't,'' Winstead said.
The move will begin in the second half of the year and should be completed by year's end, he said. Conair and Rapid made the announcement May 16 in a news conference call.
Since 2007, the firms have shared a factory in Shanghai, and Keller said that has worked out well.
IPEG was formed in 2002 to manage the plastics equipment holdings of Pittsburgh holding company and ultimate owner Sewickley Capital Inc. Sewickley purchased Rapid Granulator AB, of Bredaryd, Sweden, in 2000.
Conair's Franklin factory and Rapid's plant in Bredaryd will expand from being brand-focused operations, to global ``IPEG facilities'' that serve multiple brands, said an IPEG news release.
Keller said Rapid's Bredaryd plant will not make Conair's auxiliary equipment now, though it remains a possibility. ``It's an open question for the future,'' he said.
Conair makes a full range of auxiliary equipment. Rapid, which focuses on granulators, currently makes all granulators sold both by Rapid and Conair, officials said. Rapid last year bought Moditec srl, which makes slow-speed grinders at its factory in Marennes, France, Winstead said.
One factor driving the U.S. move is Rapid's need for more manufacturing space to build bigger granulators, he said. The Franklin factory has high-bay space that can handle larger equipment. Demand is growing for larger granulators, both to handle bit scrap parts and to grind up large volumes of recycled plastic used for packaging and other markets, Winstead said.
Three regional economic development groups contributed $200,000 in grants to help defray relocation costs to Franklin.