Lauren International Inc. is growing again as two of its six businesses plan major expansions next year.
Edgetech I.G. Inc. will add a manufacturing facility in Coventry, England, the company's first overseas production plant, for an undisclosed amount. Kevin E. Gray, president and CEO of Lauren International, estimated the factory will span about 30,000 square feet and should be in operation in the first half of 2007.
Meanwhile, Lauren Mixing L.L.C., a Lauren International-Meteor Gummiwerke GmbH joint venture based in Cambridge, Ohio, will add another mixer at its 470,000-sq.-ft. Cambridge facility, Gray said.
The mixer will cost about $5.5 million and give the company two large lines at the plant. It should be up and operating by July 2007, he said.
``We've reached capacity on our first mixer,'' Gray said, ``and we needed to continue growing.''
The new machinery will give Lauren Mixing the ability to produce another 15 million pounds of rubber compounds, virtually doubling the facility's mixing capacity.
``When we designed the plant, we designed it for three mixers, so we're in good shape space-wise,'' Gray said.
Lauren International and Bockenem, Germany-based Meteor currently combine to consume about 95 percent of the joint venture's output. ``In fact, right now we're buying product from other mixers,'' he said.
The Edgetech expansion into England was spurred by the company's growing presence in the European weatherstripping market. Edgetech's window and door systems use a unique polymer sponge rubber architectural seal, developed in 1985 to improve the energy efficiency of insulated glass windows.
Called Super Spacer, the product line has a strong foothold in North America and has been gaining ground in Europe, Asia and South America for a number of years, Gray said. Cambridge-based Edgetech runs a sales and marketing operation in Coventry, a similar division in Nuess, Germany, and maintains a worldwide sales network.
``We want to manufacture there because we have an opportunity to dominate the market,'' he said. ``Europe is about 7-8 years behind the U.S. market, as far as product acceptance is concerned, and we have an opportunity to grow there.''
But to take advantage of the opportunity, ``we have to be there with the product and be able to quickly get the product to the customer,'' he said.
The company is in final negotiations on a plant in Coventry and hopes to launch production in May.
Lauren International, which has three manufacturing facilities spread between New Philadelphia and Cambridge to house its six businesses, also offers a complete outsourcing plan to customers if it can save them money, Gray said.
And that's another area of the firm that may be expanded in 2007, if Lauren International finds the right partners, he said.
``We offer a full line of molded products from offshore suppliers if that's what the customer wants, and we handle everything for them and eliminate a lot of nightmares,'' said Cynthia Miller, Lauren International's director of marketing.
``We have an expert on staff in Asia, and we heavily scout companies overseas to see who we want to partner with,'' she said. ``We can outsource the product, and they make it designed to our specifications for our customer. That can save the customer money. We handle the whole thing and consolidate sources. We basically extend our product line for our customers when there is a need. If we make an extruded seal and the company needs a molded part that would be better outsourced, we work on the project from design to completion.''
Outsourcing packages are about 5 percent of the company's sales. The firm has plans to expand that segment to 20 percent.