It wasn't easy, but most North American compounders and concentrate makers made it through Hurricane Harvey in pretty good shape.
The storm hit the Texas coast in late August, disrupting resin production and supply chains throughout the area, which is a major petrochemical center. Almost every type of business that used plastic resin found itself scrambling to find enough material.
A. Schulman Inc. of Fairlawn, Ohio, had to temporarily close its plants in LaPorte and China, Texas, because of the storm, according to Frank Roederer, who serves as senior vice president and general manager of engineered composites. The plants received only minor damage and no structural damage, and they were able to reopen within two weeks, he said.
"The plants were in good shape, but we couldn't access material and not all of our employees could make it to the plants," Roederer explained. He added that the firm's other plants throughout North America "did pretty well."
Schulman also was able to move production from its Texas-area plants to plants in Akron, Ohio, and elsewhere. "We have a large footprint, and we saw [the storm] coming," Roederer said. "Those problems are behind us now."
RTP Co.'s plant in Orange, Texas, was in an area affected by the storm but was able to stay open, said Jean Sirois, strategic planning and acquisitions director for Winona, Minn.-based RTP. "We had to cut back a little bit, mostly in polypropylene, but overall we were in good shape. We were able to get material from other parts of world."
Techmer PM of Clinton, Tenn., had to replace one type of polyethylene with a similar PE from a different supplier, President Ryan Howley said. But for the most part, the firm was able to overcome any supply issues.
Plastics Group of America, based in Woonsocket, R.I., "was very fortunate," according to Executive Vice President Mike Rosenthal. "We had done a lot of pre-buying, mostly of polypropylene, so we had a lot of material here."
For two to three weeks after the storm hit, Asahi Kasei Plastics North America was unable to get resin shipments from Houston to its plants in Michigan and Alabama, commercial operations vice president Ramesh Iyer said. But the firm "kept communications" and didn't miss any shipments of its compounds.
"It was a challenge to plan production and required flexibility from our customers," Iyer added. "If we didn't have two plant locations, I can't imagine where we would have been."
Plants operated by Teknor Apex of Pawtucket, R.I., "were able to get what we needed with a bit of work and some difficulty," President William Murray said. "The biggest single thing has been logistics," he added. "Rail service was poor going into [the storm], and then trucking was at a premium. Sometimes you found material sitting in a warehouse, but you couldn't get it to your plants."
The storm "impacted supply and costs on many petrochemical markets," according to Kevin Putman, director of sales, marketing and operations at Penn Color in Doylestown, Pa. "Things have recovered to a large extent, but raw materials are still tight. It's been a challenge but nothing major, and we've largely avoided supply disruptions."