Geomembrane extruder Brawler Industries LLC is growing again, ready to place an order on a new seven-layer blown film line for its Houston, Texas, facility.
Brawler will spend $5 million to $7 million on a large film line and related equipment, said CEO John Keating. The company is comparing pricing quotes from potential machinery suppliers and is targeting first quarter 2017 for startup of the new line.
“Increasingly the market requires more technological expertise,” Keating said in a phone interview. The seven-layer line will address more stringent needs of the film in agricultural, construction and environmental applications.
New building codes and best practices in infrastructure upgrading are placing more demands on geomembranes' barrier properties, Keating said. Film and sheet made on the new line will include EVOH layers to provide enhanced gas barrier properties. In construction, for example, engineers are trying to keep radioactive radon gas from seeping into understories of commercial and institutional buildings by shielding them below ground. Radon is a naturally occurring gas emitted slowly from bedrock through radioactive decay of elements such as uranium.
Keating said his company wants a film line that makes as much as 10 million pounds per year of the high-performance barrier products comprising linear low density polyethylene, EVOH and tie layers. Depending on the film machinery chosen, Brawler will make film up to 15 feet wide that will be joined to create large plastic film liners in the field.
Brawler invested more than $10 million last year on expansion, despite the downturn in oil and gas production activity that is a major market for geomembranes. Petroleum drilling rigs increasingly require geomembranes for underlayment and for ponds built to manage the large volumes of water and other liquids used in drilling. With the slump in drilling activity, Brawler is pointing its expertise to a wider variety of markets.
“[The downturn] is an opportunity to rebrand ourselves,” Keating said. “We're branding ourselves across other markets.”
The new seven-layer setup will be Brawler's sixth production line to complement its existing extrusion and scrim-laminating lines.
Brawler was formed in 2014 when Tailwind Capital Group LLC combined two geomembrane distribution companies with a geomembrane manufacturer. In addition to the Houston plant, the firm also has converting and distribution facilities in Midland and Pleasanton, Texas, and in Miles City, Mont.
Tailwind, based in New York, invests in middle-market companies in North America. It manages more than $2 billion of equity capital and has invested in more than 65 corporations since it was founded in 2003.