A. Schulman Inc. has placed its Invision-brand sheet business on the selling block.
Officials with Fairlawn, Ohio-based compounder Schulman said in an Aug. 18 news release that the firm ``is seeking a joint venture partner or other strategic arrangements'' for the business, which includes technology and a commercial polyolefin sheet line at a site in Sharon Center, Ohio.
Schulman had high expectations when it launched the Invision business in 2005, and even built a facility in Findlay, Ohio, to house the unit. But a downturn in the automotive market where Invision multilayer sheet was expected to replace painted parts undercut the product's potential.
Joseph Gingo, chairman, president and chief executive officer, stopped new investment in the unit shortly after he took the helm in January. Invision sheet now is targeted at packaging and other nonautomotive markets.
Invision sheet has been used in bumper fascias on the 2005 DaimlerChrysler Neon and on front and rear appliques for the 2008 Chrysler Jeep Wrangler. Prior to the sheet effort, Schulman had tried to commercialize Invision technology as a thermoplastic olefin compound in 2002.
The move is the latest in a series of changes at Schulman under Gingo's brief tenure. In that time, Schulman has closed a plant in St. Thomas, Ontario; sold a plant in Orange, Texas; and announced plans to spend more than $10 million to return compounding work to a plant in Akron, Ohio.
Schulman hired UBS Investment Bank in March to explore alternatives, including a sale, for the overall company.
Schulman rang up sales of $1.8 billion in fiscal 2007, but its profit fell 30 percent to less than $23 million. Schulman generates 75 percent of its sales and almost all of its profit from its European operations.