Liyang, China — Chinese thermoplastic elastomer maker Top Polymer Enterprise Ltd. is investing $15 million in a factory near Atlanta, its first outside China, as it makes a bigger push into the U.S. market.
The 60,000-square-foot facility, in Social Circle, Ga., will have three compounding lines with an annual capacity of 16 million pounds. Top Polymer has two compounding factories in China and plans to have the U.S. site operating by May 2019.
CEO Marcus Tsong said the company is targeting $10 million in sales from the Georgia plant in three years, which he called "not an ambitious target."
About 80 percent of the company's current business is in Asia, but Tsong said many of its customers are headquartered in North America and Europe, and exports are growing.
"When you look at our global market, our biggest market is in Asia Pacific, whereas North America is second," he said in a recent interview at the company's factory in Liyang, about 150 miles west of Shanghai.
"Right now, our sales in North America haven't reached 20 percent of our income," he said. "Our expectation and plan is that the North American market will grow to 40 percent of our sales."
The company employs 150 at its China factories, in Liyang and Dongguan, and plans to have 70 on staff in Georgia, where it will initially make elastomeric compounds based on styrenic block copolymers and thermoplastic vulcanizates.
"We see the U.S. as the major market for the high-end applications," the company said in a statement.
Top Polymer also makes thermoplastic copolyesters and thermoplastic urethanes, and has production capacity in China of 56 million pounds, with 13 compounding lines.
Tsong said the decision to expand internationally was three years in the making.