ORLANDO, FLA. — PVC compounder and processor Multiquimica Dominicana SA has spent $2.5 million on an expansion to cater to a new market — PVC-free products.
The Haina, Dominican Republic-based company has built its business on PVC compounding and products — and it says those markets are still solid — but it came to NPE touting a new product line of thermoplastic rubber compounds for markets like shoes.
The company said it set up a new extrusion line with Italian equipment a year ago, after seeing demand from some major North American consumer product brands.
Those customers are looking for alternatives to PVC in shoe soles and linings for bottle caps because of environmental concerns surrounding vinyl, according to Commercial Director Sergio Goni.
But even with those concerns, there are not any major dents in other PVC-related sales, he said in an interview at NPE in Orlando.
Both sales and volumes of resin processed grew more than 10 percent last year, Goni said, with growth in PVC markets including medical, window and door profiles, blow molding and even shoes.
The company produces about 75 million pounds of PVC annually from compounding factories in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
It also has a factory making plastic bags and agricultural film, and another doing rotational molding. Each of those processes produce about 15 million pounds annually, he said. It makes products like rotomolded water tanks for its domestic market and PVC garden hoses.
Goni attributed part of the company's growth to research and development spending, and a focus on technology and developing technical skills in its workforce: “We invest a lot of money in R&D.”
The company also has businesses that manufacture resins and adhesives for paints and coatings, and industrial raw materials like coatings and pigments.
In 2009, the company bought emulsions manufacturing operations in Guatemala from Clariant International Ltd.
Corporate-wide, it has about $200 million in annual sales and 700 employees, with about half of its business related to plastics, Goni said.
It was the privately owned company's fifth NPE show, and it had other purposes beyond selling materials — Multiquimica is also considering opening or buying U.S. manufacturing operations.
Goni said economic development officials from South Carolina came by the booth just prior to a visit from a reporter. Officials from the Texas government came by a day earlier.
The plans for the U.S. are not detailed or finalized, he said, and it's not clear if the investment would be in its plastics business or another unit. But it's looking at a U.S. facility in the next several years, and sees it as important for expanding its geographic markets and acquiring new technology, he said.