HUDSON, Ohio—Construction of a 3,000-sq.-ft. addition and installation of another mixing line reflect the optimism rubber custom mixer Alttran Inc. has at the start of the new year.
"We got some business to fill it up right now," Jeff Patterson, head of business development, said of the new mixing line. "But we are going to need new customers."
The line, expected to increase production capacity by 150 percent, and the physical expansion of the building is long overdue, said Alttran President Dave Topliff. The company didn't disclose the actual capacity or cost of the project.
"We're hitting our maximum capacity," he said. "We wouldn't be able to continue our growth and the opportunities that we have."
Topliff founded the business in 2005 after spending 20 years in the rubber industry, including a stint as president of Polymerics Inc. He left that company when his bid to buy it fell through.
Since Alttran started up, the mixer has achieved average annual growth in sales of about 40 percent, Topliff said. That demand prompted the expansion.
"We had to make a decision as far as how to continue to help our customers with what they needed," he said. "We just didn't have the available capacity to grow."
The addition of the second line and a carbon black storage area should be completed by June 1, Topliff said. The operation originally spanned 26,000 square feet.
"Of course that means all the equipment coming in when it's supposed to and all that kind of stuff," the executive said of the projected completion date.
Topliff said the plant is operating three shifts, five to seven days a week, and he plans to add to Alttran's staff to handle the work, possibly doubling the number of employees in the next two to four years.
"We expect to grow a tremendous amount over the next couple of years," Topliff said. "We see lots of opportunity and what we see is there is a lack of technical talent. That's where we think our niche is in the technical capabilities."
Technical capabilities encompass what computers and modern equipment can do today, and the particular knowledge of compounding Alttran can offer its customers, Topliff said.
"When you talk about technical capabilities, 25 years ago Firestone, Good¬year, Goodrich…would take chemistry majors and teach them how to formulate in tires and those guys would go off into the industry and be technical directors," he said.
That's not the case today, Topliff said. Fewer personnel undergo that type of training, and those that did either are nearing retirement or already have done so.
"Where we come in is our technical knowledge in rubber and our capabilities and formulation design," Topliff said.
What could be compared to as baking a cake might sound easy. However, Patterson and Topliff know if not done correctly all you end up with is a pile of batter.
Getting all the ingredients to mix properly into what is needed is a challenge, the executives said, as well as achieving repeatability.
"That's one of the benefits of a smaller company—you can take the time to do that," said Patterson.
Alttran handles a wide variety of polymers, compounding both black and color mixes.
Located on roughly 3½ acres in Hudson, the executives said the company has plenty of room to grow if the future continues to be as prosperous as the company's past.