The color business boom at RTP Co. isn't just talk.
The Winona, Minn.-based compounder installed five new twin-screw extrusion lines at its Winona headquarters earlier this year to handle growth in its color division. Additional lab-scale and commercial-scale lines were installed at RTP sites in Fort Worth, Texas; Suzhou, China; and Singapore. An additional color line will be in place at the firm's Beaune, France, location by the end of the year.
The big investment in the color field is all by design, according to Jean Sirois, RTP color general manager.
``This is in line with RTP's establishing of four divisions a few years ago,'' Sirois said in a recent phone interview. ``It's a way to support our entry into the color market. Previously, color had been more of a support function for us in our other product lines, but now it's a focus.''
Products produced on RTP's new equipment include masterbatch concentrates and precolored compounds. The firm has a catalog of more than 300 standard colors, which can be based on more than 50 different polymer systems ranging from ABS to polyetheretherketone.
``We're building more anchor points with our customers,'' Sirois said. ``It's the same as when we moved into elastomers and our value products line.
``Focusing on conductive compounds was too limiting, and color was a natural area for us to go into. We hadn't really made a push based solely on the aesthetic side before, but now we're doing that.''
RTP has extensive experience in the engineering resins market, but now sees its ``biggest opportunity'' in colors for polyolefins, primarily in injection molding and profile and sheet extrusion.
``We're more of a performance and service model vs. a volume approach,'' Sirois said. ``We'll work with our customers and find their comfort level instead of just shoving everything one way.''
The new capacity also was needed for RTP to maintain the five-day lead time that it offers on its color products. The expansion has created about 12 new jobs in Winona. The firm also has added six additional color sales reps worldwide since 2006.
In Suzhou, RTP has built up a staff of 10 research and development personnel. Sirois said that location may receive additional production capacity in 2009.
RTP has annual sales of about $275 million and employs more than 600 at eight locations worldwide.