NORWALK, Conn.—King Industries Inc. is looking for its relationship with a German company to boost the rubber additives business of both firms.
Norwalk-based King has worked with D.O.G. Deutsche Oelfabrik GmbH of Hamburg, Germany for a number of years, but now the companies want to take advantage of D.O.G.'s expertise in factice additives.
Factice is vulcanized unsaturated vegetable or animal oil used as a processing aid and property modifier in rubber. D.O.G. has been a manufacturer of the material throughout its more than 100-year history and claims to be the world's leading producer, with a top market position especially in Europe, according to Ralph Mehl, a technical customer service official for the firm.
King Industries was founded in the 1930s and early on began making plasticizers for the rubber industry under the brand names Reogen, Bondogen and Plastogen, said Shenton King, director of marketing and market development. Over the years, though, the company grew into being a coatings and lubricant additive manufacturer and the rubber side slipped as those other businesses grew.
In 1980, current owner Dick King—Shenton's father—put even more emphasis on the coatings industry and the lubricant sector continued to rise as well, partly because of working with D.O.G.'s lubricant unit, Shenton King said.
About five or six years ago, both King Industries and D.O.G. were undergoing some changes. A couple of different distributors that had serviced King's rubber additives lines backed away for various reasons, Shenton King said. At the same time, D.O.G. was looking for a distributor in North America to take on its more extensive line of rubber additives.
The two companies got together and decided they needed a better presence in the North American market and more technical development for the rubber chemicals.
"We only had the three rubber additives before," Shenton King said. "Now with D.O.G.'s product line we've got dozens. It really makes the sales call much more effective when we can offer a broader range of materials and some specialty items, which is really where D.O.G. comes in."
And now the companies are putting a push on to give D.O.G.'s factice line of products a much bigger piece of the North American market. King said the focus will be to position the factice materials as technical products that are functional additives that have performance benefits in the compound prior to and after curing. One way to do that will be to support marketing efforts with technical papers designed to showcase the capabilities of the factice lines.
Mehl said his firm's materials are used in extrusions and to improve the performance of rubber rollers. They also can provide a smooth surface and silky feeling for the end product, get rid of air bubbles in the calendering process and reduce shrinkage of non-cured material.
D.O.G. has a large presence for factice in Germany and throughout Europe, and he believes there is a market for it in North America. "There are some competitors here too, but we are still very confident that we can sell much more than we do at the moment."
Shenton King said D.O.G.'s white factice, which is a peroxide-crosslinked material, will be one line his firm will focus its selling efforts on. It can be used in light-colored compounds and has less effect on physical properties than sulfur-cured additives.
"We need to put a better marketing effort behind it over the next couple of years," King said. "We really need to establish ourselves as D.O.G. has done in Europe."
King Industries also will emphasize D.O.G.'s Deo-Stab line of vulcanization stabilizers. It is used for EPDM compounds that contain calcium oxide, especially for extruded profiles cured with sulfur.
King said his company will pay particular attention to smaller customers that larger competitors often don't want to deal with.
"We love servicing smaller customers," he said. "That's really our niche. We often can be more competitive on price when dealing with smaller volumes. For the relative size of King Industries and D.O.G., what (larger competitors) can't service is perfect for us."
King Industries has 180 employees while D.O.G. has 90.
Both companies also have new websites where technical information and samples can be requested, as well as a live chat feature called "Ask a Chemist." King's is at www.kingindustries.com and D.O.G.'s is at www.dog-chemie.de.