CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.—Spurred by growth over a two-year period, Puma Polymers L.L.C. is expanding its operation, adding machinery and relocating to a new headquarters and plant in Dalton, Ga.
The move from its present facility in Chattanooga began the week of May 1 and will continue through the end of July, CEO James Sowersby said at the Poly-urethane Manufacturers Association meeting, held recently at Amelia Island, Fla.
The new facility, which the company purchased for an undisclosed amount, spans about 36,000 square feet, up significantly from the 20,000 square feet it presently occupies in Tennessee.
Puma Polymers also is adding blending and mixing equipment at the larger site to go with its present assortment of machinery that's being moved from the old plant to Dalton.
The company's work force of 22 is moving to the new building about 25 miles from the firm's present site, Sowersby said.
“We needed more space,” he said, “and we were leasing from our former parent, Pathway Polymers Inc. Our business has grown in the last two years by 250 percent. So we needed to grow and expand with it.”
The Dalton facility will give it that opportunity, he said.
Puma Polymers was spun off by Pathway Polymers in June 2009 and sold to Sowersby, the former chief strategy officer of Pathway, and Gerret M. Peters Jr., who had been president of the company and is now president of Puma Polymers.
Even though the economy was poor at the time, Puma Polymers prospered, Peters said during an interview at a Polyurethane Manufacturers Association meeting a year later.
And the firm has continued to build its customer base since then, principally because it has used its research and development department to add about 100 formulations for cast urethane elastomers that it made available to customers to improve their current offerings and create opportunities to add more, according to Sowersby.
Partially because of its philosophy to use its innovative technology to spur growth, he anticipates Puma Polymers will continue to gain more ground in the future. “We also have improved efficiencies that we'll try to capitalize on,” he said.
Despite all the gains it has made since becoming a stand-alone company, Puma Polymers' goal for the hot cast urethane market is to maintain a nice, strong position overall but remain a smaller player with high-quality products and fast response to customers' needs, Peters said.
The company has two core businesses: hot cast urethanes and room cure systems, used in the construction industry.
At one time, the room cure systems operation produced the majority of Puma Polymers offerings. But, as it expanded its formulations so too did the cast urethane end of its business grow and the two units are currently about 50-50.
The firm's wide-ranging product offerings—including Por-a-Mold hot cure cast elastomers, Por-a-Thane room temperature cure elastomers and Por-a-Kast room temperature urethane plastics—and an old school approach the company's employees demonstrate in serving customers have all contributed to the firm's growth, Peters said.
Auxiliary offerings include Masterworks polymer modified gypsum for model making, mold releases, fillers, in-mold coatings and urethane-to-metal or urethane-to-rubber bonding agents.