By Brad Dawson, Rubber & Plastics News Staff
Cleveland, Ohio -- While 2009 wasn't a great year for many companies, some, like polymer materials supplier PolyOne Corp., made strategic efforts during the period to strengthen their businesses.
Many of PolyOne's moves, in particular, benefited its health care segment.
"Everyone knows 2009 was an 'interesting' year, and we aggressively pursued partnerships, acquisitions and product line development," said Larry Johnson, PolyOne marketing director, Healthcare. "We think we were pretty successful doing that."
Foremost among the Cleveland-based firm's ventures was the late-year, $12 million purchase of New England Urethane Inc., a producer of thermoplastic materials -- including urethanes, olefins, polyamides and high-performance engineering thermoplastics -- for the specialty health care market. The North Haven, Connecticut-based business now is known as NEU, a wholly owned PolyOne subsidiary.
The acquisition gives PolyOne a presence in the minimally invasive catheter market, an area in which it wasn't traditionally strong, Johnson said. "They're not recession-proof, but they're definitely high-value, high-tech devices in a subsegment that we can depend on being consistent in terms of growth and value," he said.
PolyOne's business-bolstering strategy includes moving up the technology ladder, Johnson said, and one of the areas is in advanced and critical specification materials. NEU's medical material technology met that objective.
The unit's reputation and brand recognition were a key factor in making the strategic pick-up as well, Johnson said. NEU was standing on firm ground in its core health care subsegments-- minimally invasive catheters being one of them--with outstanding customer relationships domestically and overseas.
"It's difficult to develop a business when you're not known and there's a brand structure," he said. "We could do it, but it would take much longer and take a lot more of our resources. Between us, we can make them a better entity and strengthen our position in a very important market subsegment."
NEU's capabilities also include production of smaller volumes of compound, which is a good complement to what PolyOne provides. "We can use their operations for precoloured materials and for small-lot compounds, for example," Johnson said. "Their ability to go down to low volumes, to say, 25 pounds, is very valuable to us. There's a fit beyond just the technology."
PolyOne likes the NEU deal for other reasons as well. "(NEU is) very customer-focused, solutions-oriented and easy to do business with," Johnson said. "It's an overall good fit for us."
A longer version of this story is available at www.rubbernews.com