Geon Performance Solutions is giving back to the community while moving ahead with its growth strategy.
Westlake, Ohio-based Geon recently donated 60,000 face shields to hospitals, first responders, schools and businesses in Ohio to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic. The shields were made by extrusion firm Goex Corp. of Janesville, Wis., a Geon customer that used the firm's clear PVC to make the shields. Geon donated 40,000 pounds of material to Goex for the project.
Chief Commercial Officer Larry Shaw said the donation was part of Project Collaboration, a Geon initiative that's providing some services free of charge to small and midsized companies during the pandemic.
"It felt good to make a donation and help out first responders," Shaw said in a July 23 phone interview.
CEO Tracy Garrison added July 23 that he recently visited several Geon production sites that were in driving distance of Westlake. He emphasized to Geon personnel at those sites the importance of being "good community stewards" through efforts such as food drives or supplying face shields or other personal protection equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has presented a challenge for Geon, Garrison explained, but the firm has continued to pursue its growth strategy for 2020.
Geon was on target to finish the first quarter ahead of 2019 in sales volume, revenue and profitability before the pandemic hit. Even with that impact, the firm was able to reach 60 percent of its original plan in April and May. Those results improved to 73 percent in June and 86 percent in July.
"There's no question that COVID had an impact on the second quarter for the whole supply chain," Garrison said. "We had to look at our people and their safety first.
"Now there's been some recovery in automotive and in our contract services business," he added. "None of our operations were impaired, and we're ramping back up to 24/7. September can be back to pre-COVID levels."
Geon also has been able to move forward with strategic plans that it had going into 2020, including what Garrison described as "blowing up our market path to vinyl, which is the biggest piece of our business."
Geon is one of North America's largest PVC compounders. The firm also does polypropylene compounding and contract manufacturing (tolling).
For full year 2020, Geon plans to spend $20 million on changes to the PVC business in an effort to grow market share.
"We've moved ahead with some bold moves with board approval," Garrison said. "We're in the process of adding vinyl capacity to serve our plants and repositioning some previously dedicated assets, including in tolling."
These moves include realigning plants in Seabrook, Texas, and Dyersburg, Tenn., to do PVC, PP and contract manufacturing work, instead of some combination of those three. Some production capacity also has been moved from a recently closed plant in Louisville, Ky., to a plant in Pasadena, Texas.
Companywide, Geon is making moves that will increase PVC compounding capacity by 150 million pounds by the end of 2021. The firm also recently hired a transportation manager.
"We want assets super close to our clients in PVC and polypropylene, and we're not walking away from contract manufacturing," Garrison said. "We see more near-term growth in vinyl with tremendous growth in wire and cable and automotive."
He also cited medical and packaging as "key areas for the future," adding that Geon is "market-focused and customer-centric."
In June, Geon relocated its offices from Avon Lake, Ohio, to a new location covering more than 11,000 square feet in nearby Westlake. The firm will maintain a research and development solutions center in Avon Lake.
Geon has consolidated R&D work from multiple sites into Avon Lake. It's also invested $100,000 in new equipment there to improve material testing speed.
Geon was founded in late 2019 when investment firm SK Capital Partners acquired the Performance Products and Solutions business of PolyOne Corp., which was recently renamed Avient Corp. Geon has annual sales of around $800 million.