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Americhem to double China facility size

Frank Esposito | PLASTICS NEWS

  Jim Milk, director of global product supply, Cathy Hanlin, vice president of operations and development, and John Deignan, president on a recent visit to the Suzhou plant. Image by Americhem.

CUYAHOGA FALLS, OHIO -- Color and additive concentrates maker Americhem Inc. is heading into 2014 with a new president, new products and plans to double the size of its Chinese production plant.

Americhem's new president is John Deignan, who joined the Cuyahoga Falls-based firm in November after a 21-year career with Diebold Inc., a maker of banking and security systems in nearby North Canton. The 46-year-old Deignan most recently served as Diebold's chief marketing officer.

"I'm learning about the complexity of the plastics industry," he said during a March 4 interview in Cuyahoga Falls. "I don't think that until I got here I was fully aware of how far and wide it reached and how many other markets and industries it touched."

After having "a good year in 2013," Deignan said that Americhem is "cautiously optimistic" about 2014 and has "a huge focus on growth."

"The weather has been a little painful [in 2014], but there's been growth in the verticals [markets] that we serve," he added. "We've got a huge opportunity for growth in several geographies, including making a major investment in Suzhou [China]. The sky's the limit for us in geographies outside of the U.S."

In Suzhou, Americhem will add 40,000 square feet of space -- double its current size -- and install a new high-capacity twin-screw extrusion line by the end of the year. The expansion will give Americhem more room to add additional lines if needed, operations and development vice president Cathy Hanlin said March 4 in Cuyahoga Falls. The project will be completed by the end of 2014 and represents an investment of about $5 million.

Americhem is seeing Chinese market growth in several end sectors including building and construction, fibers and automotive. "We're set up for success in key markets," Hanlin said.

In late 2012, Americhem bought engineering resins compounder Infinity Compounding LLC. That was the firm's first acquisition since 2005 -- but Deignan said Americhem is on the lookout for more.

"We're actively looking at domestic or international acquisitions as part of our growth strategy," he explained. "It comes down to opportunity and timing -- and what we're able to do with and understanding of what we want to do internally or geographically."

"We've been asked by our customers to do more," Deignan added. "Size matters, reach matters."
"My desire is in taking a great company from where it is today to growth in the future."

The privately held firm has estimated annual sales of more than $250 million. Americhem ranks as one of North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers, according to Plastics News estimates.

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