LANGFANG, China—Rep International has established a joint venture with LWB Steinl GmbH & Co. K.G. to handle the exclusive sales, service and manufacturing business of rubber molding machines in China.
United Rubber & Plastic Machinery Ltd. will be headquartered in Langfang, southeast of Beijing, in a newly constructed 27,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing plant that the joint venture will lease. The facility is scheduled to be complete in December 2014.
Rep and LWB project the joint venture will create about 35 jobs, with more in the future if business is successful. Neither firm would disclose financial details of the joint venture.
“We had to start up something because our customers had been requesting service in China for several years now,” Rep President Bruno Tabar said. “We came to the point where we either do it, or we may lose customers to other suppliers. So we had to do something.”
United Rubber & Plastic Machinery is a fully independent company, which the firms said will operate under Chinese management from both parties.
General Manager Wang Xiao Bo will lead the joint venture. Xiao Bo has served as general manager for Rep Beijing—Rep's Chinese sales and service subsidiary—since its inception 16 years ago, Tabar said.
“We believe he is the right guy to take charge of the development of the business for this new company,” Tabar said. “We think that beyond technology, we can make a difference in the Chinese market with service, especially with the western transplants.”
Both firms said each has had a Chinese presence for years, but despite being independent direct competitors in other regions, they do not have much overlap in China. LWB is primarily strong in C-frame machines used for car body sealing, while Rep specializes in large column framed machines for technical rubber parts for rubber manufacturing.
LWB's product portfolio includes a complete range of rubber injection molding machines with six to 1,200 tons clamping force and 4.5 to 30,000 cc injection volume, the firm said.
Rep sells worldwide injection molding machines ranging from seven to 2,400 tons clamp pressure and 7 to 50,000 cc injection capacity, the company said.
Rep and LWB occasionally had collaborated on projects for special machines in the past. Tabar said it was enough to become knowledgeable with one another.
“I'm seeing in the long term the Asian market as a growing market,” LWB Managing Director Peter Steinl said. “At the same time, we as Europeans all going there now and building our plants are fighting against each other, not combining our knowledge and technique against the real competitors in the long term, which are probably the Asian companies.”
Rep and LWB will co-develop a new machine series under the United Rubber & Plastic Machinery brand specially tailored to the Chinese market, which will accept existing molds operated on Rep or LWB machines. Tabar said the first prototypes will be ready by the end of the year.
“It's a new brand with two investors,” Steinl said. “Brands like Rep and LWB will still exist and work in the world market. Working together in a new region, you are more successful and you're stronger than if you do it alone.”
Rep also has a partnership with Tung Yu Hydraulic Machinery Co. Ltd., a Taiwanese rubber machinery producer. The firms just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their collaboration. Rep handles sales and after-sales service for Tung Yu compression presses in markets outside of Asia, while Tung Yu shares manufacturing of Rep's RT9 basic molding machines.
Tabar said the overlap between Rep's Tung Yu partnership and its joint venture with LWB will be limited within China, and the firm will continue to sell Rep/Tung Yu machines outside of the Chinese market.