Polyethylene foam extruder Rex Performance Products has opened a second manufacturing operation in Michigan and is looking to establish a third location in the south-central United States.
Rex President Don Tate said in a phone interview that his firm needs more space to grow as the company gains accounts by going back to the basics of customer relations.
“We are bringing back to customers what is important,” Tate explained. “We are customer-centric.”
Rex has begun leasing a 140,000-square-foot facility in Port Huron, Mich., about six miles from the headquarters operation in Marysville, Mich. The Port Huron location will house a new lamination line and other converting equipment as well as warehouse space.
Rex currently is investing about $3 million to increase capacity, Tate said. In addition to the new lamination line for Port Huron, the company will install a new extrusion line in Marysville, its fourth at that factory. Rex has one lamination line in Marysville and also manages 350,000 square feet of warehouse space in the city.
Tate said expansion is necessary for Rex to maintain its three-day delivery schedules. Warehousing is key to stocking enough product for quick shipment. Rex also has added a truck fleet to its services, giving it even more flexibility to serve customers.
“The market has been served mainly by large companies,” Tate mused. He said Rex is small and nimble, making it more responsive to client needs. The 4-year-old company will employ 75 when the Port Huron operation is fully operational in April.
Tate has more than 28 years of experience in plastics, including management at Sealed Air Corp., the Charlotte, N.C., packaging giant that is a Rex rival in PE foam markets. He and an investor bought into Rex when it was in financial trouble and turned it around as a PE foam specialist.
Tate did not disclose Rex's sales figures but he predicts the current expansion phase should lead to a doubling of sales within a year and a half. The next expansion phase to be undertaken at a southern U.S. site should double sales again within two years.
Rex's product line includes laminations, plank and roll stock and custom profiles. The firm is capturing new business as well as riding the PE foam industry's overall growth of 3-6 percent per year.