Nibco Inc. has opened a new, 130,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution plant in Lebanon, Ohio, and will consolidate the operations of its two existing Ohio plants into the new location by the end of January.
The Elkhart, Ind.-based company had simply outgrown its old digs, said Randy Doering, Nibco's general manager of cross-linked polyethylene piping systems, in a Jan. 8 telephone interview.
``This will bring the two workforces together and allow for future expansion,'' Doering said.
The manufacturer of PEX pipe and flow-control systems will shut down the nearby facility in Lebanon and the plant in Franklin, Ohio, that the company used for downstream post-processing work and delivery. Nibco acquired the Lebanon plant and joined the pipe-making industry in 2006 when it purchased Knoxville, Tenn.-based Consolidated Plumbing Industries.
The purchase represented Nibco's first foray into pipe extrusion in North America, though the company does make PVC and chlorinated PVC pipe in a plant in Poland. Nibco makes PVC and ABS pipe fittings at some of its North American plants.
Doering declined to disclose how many extrusion lines will be in the new facility. The company inherited four high-speed lines when it bought CPI in 2006. Doering also declined to disclose the number of employees that will move into the new plant.
Nibco's PEX-making process is unique in that it uses an electron beam to cross-link the PE, while most PEX extruders use a chemical agent. Doering said the e-beam creates a superior product.
``It also adds some favorable physical properties to the end product,'' he said. ``It tends to be a little more flexible and easier for a plumber to handle.''
PEX has been a relatively strong performer as a replacement material in plumbing and radiant floor heating applications. High copper prices have helped propel PEX sales.
According to the Loveland, Colo.-based Radiant Panel Association, an estimated 324 million lineal feet of PEX tubing was sold in North America in 2007, down from about 330 million lineal feet in 2006. However, PEX sales fell less than 2 percent year over year, despite housing starts falling 25 percent during the same time period.