Rowmark LLC has invested $3.5 million on a sheet line for its Premier Material Concepts division that can extrude sheet up to 10 feet wide, and a 20,000-square-foot addition to its Findlay headquarters plant to house it.
Rowmark held an open house July 14 and 15 for customers, suppliers and community leaders to unveil the big sheet line, dubbed “The Beast.”
The open house in Findlay came on the heels of the July 12 announcement that Rowmark bought the assets of Southtech Plastics Inc., a New Bern, N.C.-based maker of decorative plastic sheet. The operation will merge into Rowmark's plant in nearby Trenton, N.C.
“We've worked together on various projects for a long time,” said Duane Jebbett, president and CEO of Rowmark. Southtech Plastics specializes in film and sheet lamination to serve a range of markets including the marine, automotive, furniture, office-supply, recreational-vehicle, heavy-truck and point-of-purchase markets.
Rowmark makes engravable plastic sheet for the engraving, awards and signage markets.
Terms were not disclosed.
Rowmark bought Southtech's Trenton plant in 2009 and renamed it Color Path Technologies. The facility makes decorative laminations and hot-stamp films.
Southtech President Bill Cohn will remain as vice president and general manager of the business, which now will be called Southtech Decorative Laminations. It will operate as a division of Rowmark. The combined operation will specialize in extruded sheet and film lamination.
Cohn said the company's 16 employees will move to the plant in Trenton, which is about 20 miles from New Bern.
“There are a lot of synergies between the two companies. It's been a long time coming,” Cohn said. “At this point, we thought it would be good to combine these things and aggressively go after the markets we serve.” That is better done in one facility, he said.
Including Southtech Plastics, Rowmark has made six acquisitions since 2007, after management, backed by investment firm Clearview Capital LLC, bought Rowmark from the Kremer family.
“What Rowmark's trying to achieve is to be a world-class decorative plastics platform,” Jebbett said.
Southtech brings Rowmark a stronger manufacturing presence in the Southeast and a group of people experienced in film lamination, according to Jebbett. “They have tremendous lamination capabilities and technology,” he said.
Southtech had extruded its own sheet on one coextruded sheet line. But Southtech Decorative Laminations will not be moving that sheet line to Trenton, because all of its sheet will come from Premier Material Concepts.
“The Beast” is PMC's fourth sheet extrusion line. In an interview at the open house, Jebbett said the big line will boost PMC's growing custom sheet business, sold to thermoformers. Exhibits on the factory floor showed PMC sheet applications on the upper fascia on a Mack truck and a Rubbermaid utility cart.
During the open house, the line was making single-layer sheet from thermoplastic polyolefin. But it can extrude sheet up to three layers, using the die and feed block from Extrusion Dies Industries LLC of Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Eric Hausserman, PMC's vice president of manufacturing and technology, said the EDI die has 44 heat zones. The die weighs 14,200 pounds, PMC said.
To put together “The Beast,” PMC bought three used single-screw extruders, with screw diameters of 6 inches, 31/2 inches and 21/2 inches. Hausserman said the company installed new screws and had the motors totally refurbished.
Mega Machinery Inc. of Riverside, Calif., built the downstream equipment.
In addition to TPO, the new line can extrude ABS, acrylic and high-impact polystyrene sheet.