LA PORTE, IND. — The massive film plant on East Lincolnway in La Porte started production in 1965. But back then it was part of packaging company Hedwin Corp.
Solvay Industrial Films took over in 1991, and the plant switched to making polypropylene roll stock.
The PP film has changed since then — imports from China made it more of a commodity business. But the factory has still managed to more than double in size, and it's completely remade itself as a major North and South American supplier of calendered PVC film.
That's the story in American Renolit Corp. in a nutshell. The company has changed its product mix, changed its customer base and managed to grow in a market that was initially skeptical about the capabilities of calendered film.
“Before Renolit came to the United States, calendered films were known as thick films, not high quality,” said Ralph Gut, president of American Renolit.
Gut has been in the United States for five years, and he will be heading back to Germany in October to manage the company's headquarters plant in Worms, Germany.
Convincing some customers to try calendered film wasn't easy.
“Some of our customers are cast film manufacturers,” Gut said. So Renolit had to prove to them that it could supply a high-quality, easy-to-process film that's lower in price than cast film.
Laura Schied, the company's new business development and marketing manager, said American Renolit has enabled converters to broaden their portfolios, offering higher-priced cast films as well as lower-priced calendered film with similar product features.