AERT plans layoffs, shuts Texas plant
Springdale, Ark. Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. has mothballed its extrusion plant in Junction, Texas, and is laying off an additional 5 percent of its workforce to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase cash flow.
The company also shut down a painting facility in Tontitown, Ark., and a recycling plant in Lowell, Ark. The Springdale-based maker of wood-plastic composite decking still has its two extrusion plants in Springdale, and is developing a new recycling center in Watts, Okla. The Junction site will be used for storage.
AERT will focus on the renovation, remodeling, export and recycling markets.
``AERT has largely exited the new-home construction segment, which in the past has required more overhead and infrastructure than will our new business model,'' Chief Executive Officer Joe Brooks said in a news release.
The company has been investing heavily in automation for the past two years to increase efficiency and productivity at its plants, said David McCarthy, managing director of AERT's New York-based investor relations firm, Birkhill Group LLC. He said the cutbacks are necessary.
Firefighters die in Rexam Shanghai blaze
SHANGHAI Three firefighters were killed and nine more are reported to have been injured in a blaze at a Rexam plc plastics packaging plant in Shanghai.
The fire started midday July 17, local time, at the site's warehouse, which contained resin and some semi-finished goods. Production facilities were not affected. The factory makes cosmetics and personal-care packaging such as shampoo bottles.
``It was a tragic thing,'' said Rexam spokesman Jonathan Thornton. ``We do not know the cause of the fire but will be cooperating with the local authorities.''
Regional reports suggest that the collapse of a structural beam caused the three fatalities and injured nine other firefighters. But Thornton was unable to confirm the reports. ``We have no forensic detail. We wouldn't want to speculate,'' he said.
Shanghai fire department officials declined to comment, but China's Xinhua news agency quoted Chen Fei, the director of the Shanghai Fire Control Bureau, as saying poor construction caused the beam to collapse.
A Rexam spokeswoman in Shanghai, Grace Tsai, said the firm was not commenting on that claim. She said July 18 that the firm hoped to resume production at the site early in the week of July 21. She said the cause of the blaze is being investigated.
She confirmed media reports that a temporary warehouse at the same factory complex burned down April 1, following an accident involving subcontractors doing repair work.
Pliant, Russian packaging firm form JV
Schaumberg, Ill. Flexible packaging maker Pliant Corp. of Schaumberg and Russia's Nova Roll are forming a joint venture to produce film and packaging for European markets.
In a July 7 news release, officials said the business will be based at the 150,000-square-foot Nova Roll film plant in Moscow. The plant will make PVC film as well as machine-grade, hand-wrap, shrink-bundling, food and specialty barrier films.
Products will be sold by Pack and Service outlets in Russia and 10 other former Soviet republics that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States. Elsewhere in Europe, Pliant GmbH of Philippsburg, Germany, will handle distribution.
``The combination of our technologies and manufacturing know-how with the local commercial relationships of Nova Roll will allow us to become a market leader for these products in Russia, CIS and surrounding countries. This announcement is the culmination of several years of relationship-building and market development,'' said Harold Bevis, Pliant's president and chief executive officer, in the release.
Vjacheslav Astashin, Nova Roll president and CEO, said the agreement will help his firm expand as well. Founded in 1993, Nova Roll is Russia's largest producer of adhesive tapes, stretch film and plastic bags, with estimated 2007 sales of $83 million. The company operates five blown and two cast extrusion lines, nine flexographic printing presses and 18 bag machines. It employs 430.
Pliant is a $1.1 billion producer of value-added film and flexible packaging products for the personal-care, medical, food, industrial and agricultural markets. The company operates 185 film extrusion lines, 35 printing presses and 75 bag machines. It employs about 2,900 globally.