HAMILTON, N.J. — A resurgence in U.S. manufacturing is a welcome sign for International Process Plants.
The Hamilton, N.J.-based firm bills itself as a global asset purchase group. IPP buys and sells all types of processing plants that have been closed by their owners. These include plants that produce and process plastic resins, as well as chemicals, paper, pharmaceuticals, metal or food ingredients. IPP also at times sells off equipment used at these plants.
As economies around the world move further away from the recession, IPP plants department director Michael Joachim said in an e-mail that the firm's business “has improved from the standpoint of interest from U.S. companies.”
The firm does business on a global level, operating three storage facilities in New Jersey, as well as individual warehouses in England, Germany and Romania. Its current list of available properties includes plants making PET and nylon resin, as well as plastics feedstocks butadiene, phenol, TDI and BPA.
The PET asset that IPP is trying to sell is a former Wellman Inc. complex in Darlington, S.C. The site has 550 million pounds of capacity for PET bottle resin, as well as 550 million pounds of PET fiber and 220 million pounds of amorphous PET. The 760-acre site has 1.1 million square feet of manufacturing space under roof.
IPP bought the Darlington plant from Wellman in late 2009. Wellman had closed the plant while in bankruptcy in late 2008.
IPP also is marketing two Italian plants, formerly belonging to Vinyls Italia. A plant in Porto Marghera, Italy, has 375 million pounds of suspension PVC capacity, along with almost 575 million pounds of vinyl chloride monomer feedstock. The PVC plant produces both rigid and flexible PVC grades.
The second plant, in Porto Torres, has 165 million pound of emulsion PVC capacity and almost 265 million pounds of VCM capacity. IPP is selling the plants as complete units or as individual VCM and PVC process lines.
The locations of many other IPP-owned plants — including those making plastics and feedstocks — are under secrecy agreements, Joachim said, but are provided to potential buyers. The nylon resin plant has annual capacity of as much as 33 million pounds. It stopped production in 2008 and closed in 2010.
When making its purchases, IPP assumes costs of demolition, real estate takes, security, insurance and, in some cases, environmental remediation. The firm aims to save sellers the cost of human capital, including, officials said, “countless hours of personnel time managing different segments of closure activities, instead of focusing on core business.”
IPP currently has an inventory of more than 100 plants. Some of the plants acquired by the firm have been closed for economic reasons, Joachim said, while others have been closed because of age. In addition to processing plants, IPP sells a wide variety of used process equipment, including extruders, pulverizers and dryers.
“Depending on the plant, we may sell in whole or we may decide to liquidate the plant,” Joachim said.
According to IPP's web site, the firm's transactions usually fall under one of three categories:
- A complete plant that has been shut down by its owner is bought by IPP - sometimes including the real estate the plant is located on. It's then inventoried and sold to a client who either operates the plant as is or moves and installs the plant in a new location.
- A manufacturer is shutting down a portion of a plant and sells that processing line to IPP, who then inventories the line and sells it as a complete unit or as individual equipment pieces.
- A manufacturer is shutting down a plant to reduce industry capacity with a goal of firming up prices in that industry. IPP buys the plant, agreeing not to sell the plant as a complete unit and then inventories the equipment to be sold as individual pieces.
IPP opened its doors in 1978 and remains owned by its founders, brothers Ron and Jan Gale. The firm employs about 100 and operates a dozen sales offices worldwide.