Citadel Plastics Inc., the American manufacturer of thermoplastic and engineered composite compounds, has opened its second facility in China, outside of Shanghai.
The plant, which is part of a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Emei Group, is Citadel's 20th worldwide.
The plant is known locally as BMC Composite Materials (Changshu) Co. Ltd and will have 25 employees in place this year. The plant, which is 40,000 square feet, has already begun production of bulk molding compound, which is part of Citadel's legacy composites business. The plant will expand to include sheet molding compound and thermoplastics to meet future market needs.
The facility is starting with one shift, manufacturing roughly 5 million pounds of material annually. Another shift will be added as the customer base grows.
The Changshu plant manufactures BMC for automotive headlamps, electrical and consumer applications.
“Applications for BMC composites continue to grow very rapidly. This high-performance material provides an outstanding properties profile at a competitive cost,” said Mike Huff, CEO of Citadel.
The company's first China plant is located in Dongguan in far southern China and has been in operation since 1998 with 60 employees.
Kevin Andrews, president of Citadel Engineered Composites, said the Changshu location will serve its northern customer base.
“Location is key, whether you're buying a home or building a business,” he said.
“Our new Changshu facility gives Citadel the opportunity to shorten customer lead times in East China and allows us to respond more rapidly to growing customer needs in this region,” added Fran Zappitelli, executive vice president of global technology in Citadel's engineered composites division. An additional factor in the choice of location was the amount of support given by the Changshu Economic Development Zone, Huff said.
An extravagant grand opening was held at the plant on Jan. 20, featuring lots of red and a traditional lion dance. Among the attendees were Huff; Johnny Lo, President of Emei Group, and local government officials.
Citadel did well in 2014, according to Huff. In addition to constructing and starting up production at the new Changshu site, the company integrated its late 2013 acquisition of Lucent Polymers and acquired the Composites Group in late 2014, which Huff called “a game changer for our engineered composites business.”
Huff said, “Our focus [in 2015] will be driving global organic growth and on integrating the acquisition of the Composites Group.” He added that he does not anticipate further expansion in Asia in the near future.