Tacoma, Washington - Polyurethane foam producer General Plastics Manufacturing Co. of Tacoma, Washington, has signed a new European distributor and appointed a new global sales manager to develop business in Europe and Asia. The company, which did not reveal the distributor's identity, said it is continuing in efforts to find additional European distributors as part of a wider strategy to develop new business.
A specialist in engineered high-density rigid and flexible polyurethane foam, General Plastics said the economic downturn was an opportunity for the company to expand in directions it had not taken before, as well as to concentrate on gaining market share in new and existing markets to be prepared for an economic upturn. Currently, the company estimates around 5-10 percent of sales are export sales.
"The downturn in sales and economic activity is an opportunity for us to actually become more aggressive because being privately-held and well-financed we're not subject to the same sort of buffeting as public companies or smaller companies," Ted Hile, General Plastics marketing manager, told Urethanes Technology International.
The Tacoma-based company, which employs 140 staff, also revealed that it has been attending more trade shows in Europe and elsewhere and will soon be launching a new fully redesigned website in the US.
"In total we have taken a fairly aggressive stance in our business position and we didn't see the downturn as a time to pull back," Hile commented, explaining that the company has seen a decline in sales volumes to levels of "two or three year ago" but has stayed profitable because of aggressive cost cutting and waste management plans which have "paid off handsomely," Hile said.
Looking to the future, Hile said the company is branching out into manufacturing foam materials used in tooling for composite structures while also looking into "hybrids or modifications of straight urethane foam technology that would take us into things like wind energy."
Established in 1941, General Plastics was primarily a manufacturer of coatings and some other chemical products before starting to work on polyurethane foams for the Boeing company to replace wood products in the interiors of commercial aeroplanes. In later years the company diversified and moved into other markets including refrigeration, insulation and fire lining materials for hazardous or nuclear waste containers. It also started making higher density urethane foam for hydrostatic pressure-resistant applications to provide water buoyancy or flotation.
In 1981, General Plastics built and moved into its current 100 000-sq.ft (9290 sq.m) facility, and in 1985 completed a 35 000-sq.ft addition. Its manufacturing capabilities include CNC-machining centres, moulding operations, and an extensive quality assurance inspection and chemical laboratory facility. (RD)