Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc. is adjusting its strategy, but still plans to add two compounding sites one in the U.S. and one in Mexico by the end of 2012.
The Fowlerville, Mich.-based compounder (Booth S54037) previously wanted to build a new plant in the southeast United States, but now wants to buy an existing firm or enter into a joint venture in that region by the end of 2010, President John Moyer said in a June 22 interview at NPE2009.
U.S. states being considered for the project include North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Moyer added that a similar strategy will be followed in Mexico by the end of 2012.
There's overcapacity in the U.S. compounding market right now, and we don't want to add to the problem, he said.
Asahi Kasei also has delayed plans to add a new extrusion line its ninth in Fowlerville, and instead will add a new line at its eventual southwest location.
Asahi Kasei has felt the slowdown in the automotive market. The company generates more than half of its $200 million annual sales amount from that sector. But Moyer said his firm's sales volume improved by 10 percent in June when compared with each of the previous two months.
People are down on the automotive market, but the U.S. is still going to make between 13 million and 15 million vehicles, he said. But the footprint of the plastics industry needs to change in order to make smaller and lighter vehicles.
At NPE2009, Asahi Kasei is spotlighting a new grade of Thermylene-brand polypropylene compound for door modules that was commercialized earlier this year. The material uses short-glass-fiber technology, but offers performance closer to that of long-glass fiber. Customers benefit from the short fiber being less expensive and easier to process, Moyer said.
Another NPE focus for Asahi Kasei is a new grade of Xyron-brand modified polyphenylene ether engineered for use in solar panels. Moyer said the new grade can meet increased interest in alternative energy products in the U.S. and Asia.
Asahi Kasei also is seeing increased sales for its Leona-brand nylon compounds in metal replacement uses such as auto mirror housings and roof rails.
Asahi Kasei operates 280 million pounds of annual compounding capacity at its 200,000-square-foot Fowlerville site. The firm is a unit of Asahi Kasei Corp., a Tokyo-based maker of plastics and chemicals.
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