Increased demand for its post-consumer recycled resins is leading Wellman Engineering Resins to increase the pace of its growth plan.
Sales in volume and pounds have increased at a 50 percent clip for Johnsonville, S.C.-based Wellman since the first part of 2009, officials said, due in part to new automotive applications where suppliers are looking for lower-priced material with low-environmental impact.
In most cases, Wellman has a 20-cent-per-pound cost advantage in production of its post-consumer nylon resins vs. virgin material.
Increased demand also has allowed Wellman to offer price guarantees of up to two years for customers, dependent on customers committing to buy a set amount of material. Wellman can add glass or minerals to recycled grades of nylon 6, 6/6 and 6/6/6.
Since our PCR nylon comes from carpets that would otherwise go into landfills, our costs do not track with the price of oil, CEO Bob Fotsch said in a statement. This has enabled us to offer multiyear agreements to our customers, keeping their prices low in exchange for additional business.
The firm also filled its first order for post-consumer polypropylene in August. The site currently is operating 45 million pounds out of a total of 70 million pounds of recycled resin capacity in Johnsonville.
Wellman officials also expect to reopen the site's PET fibers plant and part of its PET bottle recycling operation by the end of the year. Both of the operations have been idle since late 2006.
At full production, those units can produce 235 million pound of PET fiber and process 190 million pounds of bottles annually.
Wellman is looking to add an unspecified number of sales, engineering and production jobs by the end of the year. The firm also is seeking a West Coast distributor of its products to improve service to that region of North America.
Wellman Engineering Resins was formed in late 2008 when private equity firm J.H. Whitney & Co. of New Canaan, Conn., bought the Johnsonville site from Wellman Inc., which had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
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