BEREA, Ohio-Arnco Corp. has significantly expanded its production capabilities with the purchase of a factory in Berea to lay the foundation for the next phase of an aggressive growth plan.
The maker of polyurethane tire flatproofing fill and other products acquired a 112,000 sq.-ft. plant on 14 acres to replace the 10,000 sq.-ft. facility in Cleveland it plans to close.
The six employees at the Cleveland site will transfer to the Berea facility, according to President and CEO Larry Carapellotti, sole owner of South Gate, Calif.-based Arnco. He expects the work force to increase to more than a dozen at the Berea site by year-end.
The company probably will phase out a 32,000-sq.-ft. sales/warehousing operation in Chattanooga, Tenn., in the future, Carapellotti said. Sales personnel at the site will transfer to other offices, service employees will continue operating out of a smaller facility in the city and the Berea plant will take over warehousing.
Arnco-which operates a 25,000 sq.-ft. plant in South Gate and a smaller site in Manchester, England-acquired the 40-year-old Berea building for an undisclosed amount because the company needed to increase production to match demand and the Cleveland plant no longer could fill its needs.
"Our objective is to basically double the size of the company in the next five years," Carapellotti said at the plant´s opening July 7. "For us to do that, we needed this kind of world-class facility. The ultimate (annual) capacity at this plant will be 250 million pounds of fill and other polyurethane elastomers," such as casting resins and polyurethane coatings.
He didn´t divulge sales figures, but said the firm does more than $1 million a year in sales for each employee. "A pretty decent company usually doesn´t even do $300,000 per employee," he said. Arnco´s sales have grown by about 78 percent in the last four years, and set an all-time record in 2004 when revenues jumped 25 percent.
The newly acquired building previously was occupied by two chemical companies, doesn´t require extensive modification, and meets Environmental Protection Agency requirements and other environmental standards, said Vice President Joe Negrey.
"The facility has tank off-loading capabilities, several loading docks, a 33-foot high ceiling with plenty of room for expansion beyond what we will install for our immediate needs," said Negrey, whose promotion to vice president was announced during the July 7 groundbreaking. "The building also has a 13,000 sq.-ft. explosion-proof area to protect against flammable solvent materials, seven labs and spill containment throughout the facility."
Carapellotti claims that Arnco is the largest polyurethane flatproofing product manufacturer for off-the-road tires in the world. Its two primary competitors are Hyperlast Ltd. and Carpenter Co.
From fill to tires
Two units operate under the Arnco flag. The Domestic Business Group primarily handles a variety of elastomers and polyurethane flatproofing fill for tires used in the construction, mining and several other industries while the Performance Polymers Group oversees urethane systems for existing applications, casting resins, polyurethane sprayables and new applications.
Arnco also does some self-skinning foams and operates Carefree Tire, originally created for the bicycle market in 1977, which has grown into a large supplier of microcellular polyurethane tires used in the material handling and lawn and garden industries. Its wheels are used on hand trucks, wheelbarrows, golf and garden carts, and lawn mowers.
The firm´s product line features several tire flatproofing materials-including SuperFlex, HeviDuty and RePneu. In addition, it offers ReSeal tire sealant and rim conditioner along with QuikGel, a self-sealing polyurethane liner.
The privately held company buys raw materials from major manufacturers like Dow Chemical Co., Bayer A.G. and BASF Corp., said Carapellotti, who joined the company 18 years ago as president. It takes those and formulates them to make proprietary chemical systems, most of them featuring two components with an A side and a B side, he said. It then sells those to customers who take the materials, mix them together and make finished parts.
Arnco´s most successful product is its patented liquid fill, which is pumped into a tire through the valve stem, resulting in a synthetic rubber core that doesn´t go flat, he said.
"The big advantage is it doesn´t have to be specially made for any tire size," the executive said. The fill "pressurizes the tire just as if it was pressurized with air, which means the tire is going to react and work exactly the way it was designed by the tire designer. That´s a big benefit."