Orlando, Fla. — When opportunity knocks, open the door. At least, that is what Hamburg, Germany-based distributor and thermoplastics compounder Albis Plastic GmbH thought of the chance to form a U.S. joint venture.
Although active in the U.S. for 50 years, Albis was not satisfied with its presence there and had been looking a way to better serve its global and domestic customers in the United States.
"We had, and have, an increasing number of European and Asian customers who want to be served here locally," said CEO Philip Krahn.
In addition to establishing Albis Barnet Polymers LLC, a JV for the recycling and pelletization of fibers and post-industrial plastic waste with a capacity of 35,000 tons a year, Albis therefore also took the decision to construct a new production facility for engineering compounds at the joint venture site, with a capacity of 15,000 tons per year.
With the new facility in Duncan, S.C., completed a year later, the company was able to supply the U.S. market with a complete locally produced portfolio of technical compounds marketed under the Alcom and Altech brand names.
Just six months after that, the company bought out its joint venture partner, William Barnet & Son LLC.
"We are now in a position to grow and to get where we want to be," Krahn said. "Geographically, the U.S. is a huge market, but one where we operate as compounders only with a focus on customized compounds for the E&E and automotive sectors. In Europe, we are compounders and distributors, but here the distribution system was already fixed in place."
The decision to become more involved in recycling was motivated by the company's focus on the automotive industry.
"With the acquisition of Barnet, we became backwards integrated into eco-compounds," said Stefan Fuhlendorf, president and CEO of Albis Plastics Corp., the firm's North American unit. "New regulations in Europe are requiring car makers to put more recyclate into their cars, which presents a big opportunity," he explained. "These materials are now starting to hit the market here, too. [Automakers], such as Ford and Chrysler, are interested in our eco-compounds. And with a capacity of 35,000 tons a year, we are a considerable player. We have a consistent supply of high-quality recyclate from our own plant."
South Carolina, he added, is a hub of the U.S. automobile industry, making the site an ideal point of access to an important target market as well as to a pool of skilled employees.
"In addition, people are coming back to the U.S. to manufacture, so there are many, many interesting applications being developed, and economically, the outlook is bright," Krahn said. "Barnet was an opportunity, and we made the right decision when we took it."
Plastics News photo by Michael A. Marcotte