Spartech Corp. is reopening its compounding plant in Lockport, N.Y.
The plant began operating one of its three compounding lines this week and should be in commercial production by the end of the month, according to Michael Marcum, senior vice president of color and specialty compounds with Clayton, Mo.-based Spartech.
The restart is being driven by a sustained recovery in the automotive industry, Marcum said in a Jan. 19 phone interview. Most of the plant's products are polypropylene-based compounds used to make heating, ventilation and air conditioning parts for the auto market.
The plant also will make compounds that incorporate recycled content, which Marcum said is being requested by a number of customers.
Of all of our plants, the Lockport plant is the best suited to handle recycled content, he added. This will be music to our customers' ears.
One of the drivers within Spartech is sustainable and renewable products. Our customers need it because their customers are demanding it, he said.
Spartech is calling back many of the employees who were laid off when the plant closed in late 2009, but Marcum declined to provide an exact number of jobs. Work previously done in Lockport had been transferred to a Spartech plant in Donora, Pa. Some laboratory equipment and grinding machinery also had been moved to Donora, but now has been returned to Lockport.
The Lockport reopening is a positive step for Spartech after a tumultuous year in which the firm posted a loss of $50 million, even as sales increased 10 percent to just over $1 billion. The firm also was impacted by a change at the top, when board member Victoria Holt replaced Myles Odaniell as Spartech's president and CEO in September.
Spartech is a major producer of plastic sheet and a maker of color compounds and concentrates. Two of its three units posted operating losses in fiscal 2010, including a loss of more than $14 million in color and specialty compounds.
The firm ranks among North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers, according to a Plastics News estimate.