SHANGHAI (June 21, 3:25 p.m. ET) — With a drum roll and a burst of confetti, PolyOne Corp.'s global leaders recently convened in Shanghai to open the doors on the company's new innovation center.
“This is a world-class innovation center,” said Shang Wenyu, global technology director for PolyOne's color and additives business. “It will anchor PolyOne's presence in this fast-growing region.”
The center is one of three for Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne in Asia — the other two are located in Suzhou and Singapore — but Shanghai is the largest. The 108,000-square-foot center replaces a smaller center in Shanghai. The new site employs 200 and boasts 55 different kinds of processing and testing equipment.
A tour included a glimpse at the company's new material-aging room, film-casting room and test injection room.
The new center represents an investment of around $8 million, according to Shang, who said the center will likely focus on green packaging, health-care, automotive and green construction applications.
“When we think about having an innovative focus is not what PolyOne thinks is important, but what the customer thinks is important,” added John Van Hulle, senior vice president of PolyOne's global color, additives and ink business.
PolyOne had global sales of $2.9 billion in 2011, with 9 percent from Asia.
“Nine percent is not small,” said Bob Patterson, the executive vice president and chief operating officer. “But it's something we believe should be growing faster.”
As a whole, PolyOne recently has hired 150 new employees, or, as Patterson called them at a news conference, “commercial resources.” Two-thirds of those new hires were made outside of the United States.
“We believe that our greatest growth opportunities are outside the United States — in Asia, Brazil and Eastern Europe,” he said.
Patterson said that a significant part of the investment at the site went to hiring the right people to staff the innovation center.
“The brick and mortar and new equipment is not what makes our innovation center special,” he said. “It is the associates who run it.”