AKRON (Jan. 28)—A. Schulman Inc. hopes cutting its North American inventory levels by 15 percent and reducing manufacturing and delivery costs will revive its slumping North American operations. The goal of the 26-week program is to generate operating savings of $6 million to $7 million a year beginning in fiscal 2004 for the supplier of high-performance compounds and resins, including some thermoplastic elastomer materials, said Barry Rhodes, vice president of North American sales and marketing. He said the company has brought in a consulting firm to evaluate whether any job cuts or plant closings will be needed. The global compounder's net sales in North America dipped to $387.8 million during 2002, down from $395.4 million the year before. Its net sales in Europe also dropped, but only by about $1 million to $578.7 million.