Desloge, Mo.-based PolySol LLC has opened a 30,000-square-foot facility in West Lothian, Scotland, to manufacture vinyl plastisol for the United Kingdom and Europe.
Major customers in the U.K., Spain and Turkey had asked PolySol to support them with an overseas operation, co-owner Jason Marler said.
"You've got to jump when the opportunity presents itself," Marler said in a phone interview. "We've been fortunate after kicking a lot of stones over and working with a lot of customers."
Marler, an engineer who once was a plastisol buyer, owns the 4-year-old company with Joe Mueller, a chemist.
PolySol opened in Niles, Mich., in 2014 then moved to Farmington, Mo., in 2015 after a third partner retired. Demand for PolySol plastisols grew, particularly the vinyl emulsions used to make fishing lures and dip coat products from plier grips to outdoor furniture. The business needed a bigger site.
In 2018, the partners purchased a 100,000-square-foot facility in Desloge. They also bought trucks and trailers for a total investment of about $2.5 million in Missouri.
Now they have expanded to Scotland. After a nearly $1 million renovation, the facility can process 5 million to 6 million pounds of plastisol annually with a crew of five employees, while the Missouri site can process about 20 million pounds.
The first products were shipped from West Lothian, which is halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow, a month ago.
Made from PVC resin, a plasticizer and a stabilizer, plastisol is liquid at room temperature and looks like paint. The mixture can take on a wide range of properties and be UV resistant, flame retardant, medical grade, custom colored, clear or glow-in-the-dark and more.
The plastisol is applied to products in a variety of ways, such as dip coating for tool handles and outdoor furniture; dip molding of caps, closures and seals; lamination of curtains, tents and artificial leather; rotational molding of boat fenders and squeeze toys; and cast molding of anti-fatigue mats.
With product shipping, the Brexit issue causes Marler some concern about deliveries from the U.K. to European Union countries, but he is optimistic for a good outcome when a decision is made.
"They keep postponing it. I wish they'd do something because the postponement is more of a detriment," Marler said. "If it happens and the U.K. breaks away, there will be some sort of duties to ship into the EU. The number that has been kicked around is like 6 percent.
"On one hand, you add 6 percent to cost, but on the other hand there's also a question of what happens to the British pound currency," he continued. "If it goes up 6 percent, then it's a wash. I don't think it will be the end of the world either way and we're going to make it work either way."
And one thing seems certain.
"It's still better to ship from Scotland than the U.S. to get into the European market," Marler said.