Gala Industries Asia Ltd. has moved into a new facility in Pattaya, Thailand, that is four times larger than its previous building. The new facility includes a lab that will house one of the company's Edge underwater pelletizing systems so it can conduct trials for customers in Southeast Asia.
“We are just now running the machinery on a trial basis,” said Donald Smith, managing director of Gala Industries Asia, in an interview at NPE2012 in Orlando. “We are expecting to conduct our first test for a customer in about two weeks.”
Smith said the 12,200-square-foot-facility will house the laboratory, warehouse space for spare parts and equipment sales. Gala Industries Inc., based in Eagle Rock, Va., established its first Asian facility in Thailand in August 2008.
“The most important thing for us is to be able to work with our customers in real time during a normal business day,” he said. “We will be able to make more of a personal connection with our customers. The expansion will take us to another level and position us for further growth in key markets throughout the region, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.”
Previously, potential customers had to ship their materials to Gala facilities in the U.S. or Germany, or visit one of those countries to see a working demonstration.
“With our new lab facility, customers from Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia are only an hour and a half away,” Smith said.
“We knew at some point, we would need a laboratory so customers could coordinate lab tests without sending material to Germany or the U.S.”
But ironically, what helped trigger the move into the new building earlier this year was the need for space to store large spare parts, he said.
“We needed to safely handle the spare-part side of the business, and we wanted to have a working lab to demonstrate our equipment,” he said.
“The demonstration equipment is an important sales tool that will help customers assess the technology and make decisions.”
In addition to the underwater pelletizing system, the lab will have a 31/2-inch single-screw extruder, a screen changer and a polymer diverter.
“Our system has the capability to do everything, from micropellets, engineering resins and some commodity resins,” Smith said.
He said the smaller-sized unit, the Edge 500, cost about $65,000 and is an economical choice for customers in Southeast Asia.
“It is more than a system just for recyclers. We know that if we can demonstrate it in a lab setting, we have greater potential to sell our product because it can handle a greater array of products — including bio-based and corn starch-based materials,” he said. “It can handle PVC and anything in the recycling realm, such as polyethylenes and polyolefins.”
Smith said the company uses a sector marketing approach and is seeing applications for hot-melt adhesives, for example. “It is also a good springboard for micropellets and rotational molding,” he said.
Gala has been selling into Asia — Japan, Taiwan and South Korea — for more than 20 years.
“But when we decided to have a physical presence, we looked at Southeast Asia because of its costs, its infrastructure and its friendly legislation and laws,” Smith said.
“We think this is one of the biggest things that will help us grow,” Smith said.
Gala makes underwater pelletizing systems and centrifugal dryers at facilities in the U.S., Germany and Thailand.