Gains from the automotive and construction markets provided a strong fiscal 2014 for Americhem Inc.
The Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based maker of color and additive concentrates saw “high single-digit growth” in its 2014 fiscal year, President John Deignan said in a recent phone interview. Americhem's fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
“The weather affected us early on in the fiscal year, but we had expectations of improvement,” Deignan said. “The last six months [of the fiscal year] were very good, especially in automotive and in building and construction.”
The auto market is benefiting from “pent-up demand” for new vehicles, according to Deignan. The firm's materials are used in injection molded instrument and door panels, headliners, floor coverings and similar auto applications.
Carpet fiber applications are driving demand for Americhem's materials in the building and construction field, Deignan said.
“As employment starts to improve, you see people making more purchases,” he added. “We hope to continue that growth in 2015.”
Fiscal 2014 for Americhem — the last three months of 2013 on the calendar — “started sluggish and slow,” according to global supply chain director Rod Manfull. The firm was affected by cold weather that uncharacteristically reached into the southern U.S., affecting construction work there.
Thankfully, Manfull said that Americhem was able to learn from that experience.
“We had cold weather up and down our supply chain,” he recalled. “So we had to increase communication and better manage fluctuations in demand.”
That experience may already be benefiting Americhem in its 2015 fiscal year — which began Oct. 1 — as cold and snow hit many parts of the U.S. in mid-November, earlier than usual for many parts of the country.
On the production side, Americhem by the end of calendar 2014, will have completed a 40,000-square-foot expansion of its plant in Suzhou, China. On the new products front, the firm in September unveiled six new color palettes for 2015-16.
Deignan added that in 2015 the firm expects to see new materials from Infinity Compounding, the Swedesboro, N.J.-based engineering resins compounder that Americham acquired in late 2012.
At the recent Fakuma trade show in Germany, Americhem's focus included a new softening additive — mBrace — which can be used in nonwovens to set desired softness levels. Potential applications include apparel, medical products, packaging and upholstery.
The firm also spotlighted the results of recent outdoor weathering studies for its eCap-brand high-performance compounds for building products. A range of brown and gray eCap materials showed less color fade and good durability in the studies.
Americhem operates seven plants worldwide and has annual sales of more than $250 million.