A new extruder manufacturer has been formed by several former employees of extrusion equipment major American Kuhne Inc.
US Extruders Inc. is based in Westerly, R.I., about five miles from American Kuhne's and Graham Engineering Corp.'s former Ashaway, R.I., facility, once touted as Graham's center of excellence for extrusion. Graham shut the Ashaway facility in 2015 and moved operations to York, Pa.
US Extruders President Bill Kramer told Plastics News that he and other officials saw the need for a new supplier. He also said in a Sept. 7 phone interview that some American Kuhne personnel were unhappy with the relocation of Graham's extrusion business to York, about 330 miles away from Ashaway.
Kramer said consolidation in the plastics machinery market has led to a lot of brands but not many suppliers.
“There is always demand for an independent supplier that is personalized and will cater to customer needs more directly,” Kramer said.
US Extruders' goal is “developing a new generation of highly engineered, custom single-screw extruder solutions,” the new company stated in a Sept. 7 news release.
“Our team realized that with our talent, building a new extrusion company was viable and would fill a demand in the marketplace,” Kramer said.
“We won't just be selling machines; we'll be making lasting relationships with our customers and solving their extrusion needs with integrity and quality made-in-America machinery.”
In December, Graham filed complaints against Bill Kramer and six other key US Extruders employees in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa. The civil complaints allege breach of contract for violating non-compete agreements and misappropriation of trade secrets.
Kramer said the non-compete periods mostly expired this past spring. Graham officials said they have a policy not to comment on pending or potential litigation.
The new company's team includes several former American Kuhne personnel besides Kramer. They include operations expert Dan Schilke; screw designer and process engineer Kevin Slusarz; extrusion engineer Jeff Lawton; salesman Doug Johnson; purchasing and inventory specialist Mike Perri, and communications professional Eric Adair. These employees are all named in civil lawsuits filed by Graham.
Kramer said his new company is building a prototype single-screw extruder that eventually will be part of a laboratory his firm is setting up in Westerly along with manufacturing capability. The new company also is establishing a customer support structure, and extruder repair and restoration services.
US Extruder will offer a guarantee that includes a five-year total warranty for a machine built to a customer's specifications, delivered on time, meeting performance specifications, supported by comprehensive service, free startup and training, and life-time process support.
Machines will be specifically designed for blow molding, blown and cast film, compounding, extrusion coating, fiber, medical, pipe and profile, reclaim, sheet, tubing and wire and cable. Extruders will be available with barrel diameters ranging from 1 inch to 8 inches.
“Our machines will be affordable, reliable, serviceable and high performers,” the company said in a news release.
American Kuhne itself was formed 20 years ago by an exodus of officials from a major extruder producer. In 1997 several former employees of Davis-Standard LLC left that company to establish American Kuhne.
Graham bought American Kuhne in 2012, launching the blow molding machinery company into the extruder market. A year later Graham bought Welex, a leader in plastic sheet production systems. Graham subsequently moved Welex sheet line manufacturing from Greenville, N.C., into Graham's York headquarters, which was already designated Graham's blow molding center of excellence.
The name US Extruders underlines the firm's focus on the North American market and its made in America manufacturing strategy. The company said it will extensively use U.S.-made components throughout the extruder assembly.