Birch Plastics Inc. will install new testing equipment, including a lab-scale injection molding machine, by the end of the year.
Houston-based Birch which does compounding, distribution and recycling work needs the new equipment to handle increased demand for its products and services, owner and General Manager Robert Lang said in a recent interview in Houston.
``Business has been great,'' said Lang, who founded the company in 2001. ``We're getting a lot more calls from people looking to buy recycled material, and as a result, we're turning over our inventory faster. A lot of times a processor can buy material from a company like us for less than they would pay a major distributor.''
Birch employs a total of nine at a 20,000-square-foot recycling plant and distribution warehouse in Houston and a 15,000-square-foot compounding plant in Cuero, Texas about 120 miles outside Houston. The firm operates two twin-screw extruders in Cuero and may add a third line there next year.
Lang said the firm also might be looking for a new location in the Houston area, since it has almost maxed out available space at its present site.
Birch makes glass-filled compounds based on recycled grades of engineering resins such as nylon and ABS. The firm also does some work in glass-filled polypropylene compounds. On the distribution side, Birch handles off-spec and surplus grades of a variety of commodity and engineering resins, and a smaller amount of prime material.
Birch's recycling operation consists of three grinders and a baler handling various materials, which it then sells in regrind form. Post-industrial products set to be recycled in late June included rigid PVC pipe, flexible PVC tubing and high density polyethylene shipping pallets. The firm handles a steady stream of HDPE pallets for a local grocery supplier, Lang said.
Lang launched Birch after spending almost 20 years with Longwood Plastics a distributor and recycler operated by his father, Howard and with plastic lumber maker Trex Inc. and compounder LNP Engineering Plastics.
``I missed working with my dad and being an entrepreneur,'' Lang said of his decision to branch out on his own. ``I figured if I was going to work this hard for anyone, I might as well do it for myself.''
Birch is on track to post sales of $6 million this year, a slight increase from $5.6 million in 2007. Half of the firm's sales are generated by compounding and recycling, with the remainder coming from distribution.
Birch also generates about 20 percent of its sales from the export market.