SOMERSWORTH, N.H.—Automotive hose maker Thermopol is expanding its plant in Somersworth almost two-fold to significantly boost the facility's capabilities and work force.
A business unit of ContiTech A.G., which is a division of Hanover, Germany-headquartered Continental A.G., Thermopol plans to add more than 38,000 square feet to its 46,000-sq.-ft. factory in Somersworth, a spokes- man said.
Presently, the facility produces silicone hose for manufacturers of cars and heavy-duty trucks, the food and pharmaceutical industries, and other industrial applications.
The multimillion dollar project will allow the company to significantly boost those capabilities.
A new extrusion line is expected to be added at the factory, and once it's in place the plant also will be capable of producing rubber hose, including those in systems for exhaust gas cleaning in diesel motors, the spokesman said. That upgrade would tie in with growing environmental awareness and more stringent future federal regulations expected in the U.S.
Thermopol, which is headquartered in London, is aiming to complete the expansion project sometime in the fall.
Because of the addition, new product line technology and the new extrusion line, the company is expected to add another 80 employees to its present work force of about 140 in the next year. New jobs likely will include engineering, production, management and quality control posts.
Once the expansion is complete, the spokesman said, the Somersworth facility will have technologies that so far have been lacking at the site.
With the technology, Thermopol can offer its customers even higher-quality hoses, he said. Moreover, “car manufacturers in the NAFTA zone attach great value to having local suppliers” with strong technology, which should be in place by year-end.
The company broke ground on the plant expansion April 13. Site and usage plans previously had been approved by the Somersworth planning board.
ContiTech acquired the industrial hose maker from private investment groups for an undisclosed price in early 2007. The Somersworth silicone hose operation was formed in 1992 as a joint venture between Thermopol and Dowry, Palmer & Chenard. It has made its products out of the same plant since then.
The factory primarily supplies a number of vehicle manufacturers, including General Motors Corp., Volvo Car Corp. and Ford Motor Co.
While Thermopol was breaking ground on its expansion in Somersworth, ContiTech was busy in Grossa, Brazil, where on April 29 the firm opened a conveyor belt and textile steel cord production facility that spans almost 54,000 square feet. About 60 jobs will be created by the expansion.
ContiTech has invested more that $13 million in the project.
“Brazil is far and away the largest market in South America,” said Hans-Jurgen Duensing, head of ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group. “It accounts for about 50 percent of total volume in the conveyor belt sector in that part of the world.”
Earlier in the month, Hanover-headquartered ContiTech purchased the Flexowell conveyor belt operations and other assets of Metso Corp., headquartered in Helsinki, Finland.
A Metso Minerals (Deutschland) GmbH plant in Moers, Germany, also was acquired by ContiTech in the transaction. It will be run by ContiTech Transportbandsysteme GmbH. The deal was expected to close May 1.