Latex International L.L.C. will expand its latex pouring and manufacturing capacity in the next several months by adding a rubber latex topper production line.
The company currently doesn't make a continuous mattress topper in rolls and decided to enter the field because the demand was there, said Marketing Director Kevin Stein.
Latex International is beginning the process of creating space for the new manufacturing line at its 208,000-sq.-ft. Shelton plant and headquarters, he said, and will begin constructing the specially designed machinery shortly after that process is complete. The investment was not disclosed.
``We're looking to custom-build the line at our plant,'' Stein said. ``It should take over a year to build it and begin producing product.'' The machinery should be up and operating by early 2006.
The line is the only one of its kind in the U.S., he said, adding that it will enable the company to produce Dunlop-process mattress toppers and sheets on a continuous line, minimizing the need for fabrication.
``For the past three years, the use of latex has been growing over 30 percent annually in high-end bedding,'' President and CEO Mike Lorelli said. ``The missing component has always been a high performing product that can be used in the quilt. Body impressions are one of the most common reasons for retail mattress returns. As a resilient and durable cushioning technology, latex can help eliminate those impressions from happening.''
The topper material will come in thicknesses ranging from 0.4 to 2 inches in a wide range of firmness levels. Stein said that allows mattress manufacturers to source latex rolls made domestically that can go directly into a mattress quilt.
The company's new man- ufacturing capability will help it meet growing demand for the product ``as latex is now gaining placement in many high-end conventional beds with many of the industry's leading brands,'' Lorelli said.
Latex International is continuing to build infrastructure to support that growth, he said. The additions are another phase in Latex International's extensive expansion plans, which began earlier this year.
The company is in the process of expanding its Talalay rubber latex foam process capacity by 19 percent by adding a line of queen-size latex presses and molds at its Shelton location.
That expansion is expected to be completed in early 2005.
Because mattress customers want a wide choice of high-quality products de- livered in less than three days, Lorelli said the line will allow Latex International to expand its growing portfolio, increase the speed of products to market and cut its delivery time.
The line will complement existing output from the firm's Connecticut and Los Angeles facilities, along with a soon-to-be-added fabrication plant in the Southeast.