AKRON—Mesnac Co. Ltd. is breaking into a new market via an acquisition and expanding its capabilities in Europe, while naming a leader for its Akron Technical Center.
The tire machinery supplier acquired Fushun Yikesi New Material Co. Ltd., a Chinese producer of synthetic rubber and resin products, and will expand its Mesnac European Research and Technical Center in Trencin, Slovakia, by 32,000 square feet.
And in North America, the firm appointed K. Mohamed Hassan as the executive director of its research and technical center in Akron.
Mesnac said it spent $60 million to acquire Fushun, whose product line includes refined petroleum C5 resin, piperylene, dicyclopentadiene and isoprene derivatives. It operates one facility in Fushun City, China, and produces about 400,000 tons of synthetic rubber per year, Mesnac Group CEO Zheng Jiangjia said at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference in Akron. The acquisition marks Mesnac's entry into the rubber raw materials side of the industry. The firm is one of the world's largest suppliers of tire manufacturing equipment.
“Mesnac wants to be a global equipment supplier,” Jiangjia said. “If we don't know the product or the raw material, it is very difficult to be the top level manufacturer. Today more and more customers ask us to provide high precision and high technology equipment to meet their requirements for their new products. It is very good for us if we know the raw material so we can change the design or develop new ideas within equipment manufacturing.”
Jiangjia said Mesnac's customers want it to perform testing of both the equipment and the raw material. The executive believes that future technology and technology demands will make synthetic rubber a more attractive option.
The acquisition puts Mesnac in position to offer customers both equipment and raw materials.
“We're trying to use integration between the material and the equipment,” Hassan said. “Mesnac is trying to provide a complete solution for the customer, to provide equipment, material and best conditions to process this material at the same time.”
More research in Europe
MERTC will provide expanded research and development, manufacturing and assembly through its expansion, which the firm said is expected to be complete by the end of 2015.
Mesnac did not disclose investment details, but it said that it likely will reach several million Euros.
“Our main target is to provide research and development projects for the mother company,” said Karol Vanko, general director of MERTC. “We are building the new facility to provide better research and development quality for our engineers and also to have the chance to test the machines we are developing. Generally speaking, we're going to improve all of our parameters of our European center.”
Vanko said the center employs 25, and final employment projections have not been determined yet, but he said the firm is optimistic it eventually will have 50 employees at MERTC.
The focus of the expansion will be on tire building machines, Mesnac said, but MERTC also will have the capability to assemble hydraulic curing presses and other tire production equipment in the Mesnac product range.
“Mesnac is producing about 300 tire building machines per year, which is a huge amount,” Vanko said. “We want to also develop the quality of the machines. We want to be No. 1 in the world, and these projects will help to develop our tire building machines for the future.
Hassan to lead Akron
Mesnac said Hassan will lead a multi-functional engineering and technical team focusing on specific research and development projects related to the North American market at its Akron technical center, which opened in 2013.
Hassan brings both an academic and industrial background, having held positions with Pirelli Tyre S.p.A., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and most recently with the University of Akron's College of Polymer Science and Engineering, where he managed the establishment of an Institute of Elastomer Technology in Saudi Arabia.
He welcomed the opportunity to return to the industrial side of the business.
“The industrial side is more dynamic,” Hassan said. “Every day you have problems you face with projects you like to work on and improvements you seek to achieve. This attracted me to return to the industry.”
Hassan started with Pirelli in 1994 until 2000, when he came to the U.S. to pursue a doctorate at Akron. After graduating in 2004, he joined Cooper Tire until 2007 before working as an associate professor for industrial engineering in Egypt's Arab Academy for Science and Technology. He returned to Akron in 2011 as assistant institutional director.
“We need more talent all around, not only in China, but in Europe and North America too,” Jiangjia said. “For Mr. Hassan, he has a very good technical background in rubber technology, but he has a very good relationship with the University of Akron. We also thought that his personal character is very high.”
Quality will be a key focus under Hassan's leadership.
“I would like to combine the industrial engineering with quality and polymer engineering to create a new vision for the U.S. center,” Hassan said. “I'm thinking of smart plants and smart equipment. This is what we are going toward in North America. I'd like to provide the operator of the machine that will enable him to produce high quality products with the highest productivity possible.”
Headquartered in Qingdao, Mesnac operates technical, manufacturing and service facilities in Europe, Asia, India, China, North America and Latin America.