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Polish company Synthos bolsters SBR business

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AKRON—Synthetic rubber producer Synthos S.A. is expanding its operation on two fronts.

The Poland-based company has formed a key alliance with Harwick Standard Distribution Corp. to distribute Synthos' SBR and butadiene products in the U.S. and Canada.

It also is constructing its first solution SBR plant in Poland near Krakow, which it expects to be operational in 2015. The facility will have capacity to produce about 90,000 metric tons of S-SBR a year, the company said.

Synthos has had a presence in both the U.S. and Canada for the distribution of its products for several years, "but the agreement with Harwick Standard brings stability and strategy to the way we want to now approach the U.S. and Canadian markets," a spokeswoman said.

Harwick Standard will be the primary and exclusive distributor for non-tire products for Synthos in the U.S. and Canada, she said. For tire offerings, she added, the company currently has some direct relationships, and it plans to involve Harwick Standard as needed down the line.

Synthos CEO Tomasz Kalwat said the company long has recognized the growth potential in the U.S. market and sees it as a key sector to propel the company's growth.

It gains a well-known and stable partner in Harwick Standard that has local warehousing and product knowledge with the agreement, the spokeswoman said.

"We expect our presence to grow significantly," she said. "We treat this as very strategic in our footprint over the next 10 years."

Management-owned Harwick Standard, headquartered in Akron, has been serving the rubber, thermoplastics and other polymer-related industries for more than 80 years. It has a nationwide distribution network that supplies products from more than 30 blue-chip manufacturers, the firm said.

Selection of a key partner for its SBR products in North America "was a very important decision for Synthos, and we did a lot of investigation of various distributors before choosing Harwick Standard Distribution," said Sim Elman, sales director of synthetic rubber at Synthos.

He said Harwick's excellent reputation in the rubber industry along with its distribution model make it a good fit for Synthos, which claims to be the largest European producer of SBR, with a capacity of 280,000 metric tons a year of emulsion SBR at its plants in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Synthos also has a neodymium-catalyzed butadiene rubber facility in the Czech Republic with 80,000 metric tons of capacity along with two sites in Poland, one that produces nitrile butadiene rubber and the other that makes SBR.

From Harwick Standard's perspective, representing Synthos in the U.S. and Canada is a natural fit for the firm, according to Ernie Pouttu, CEO of the distributor.

"Like our name says, we set the industry standard through our distribution model, focusing on our customers in order to provide them with the highest quality products and support, as effectively as possible," he said. "Our partnership with Synthos will help us accomplish just that."

Meanwhile, construction of Synthos' first S-SBR plant in the Krakow area is continuing on course, the spokeswoman said. The company broke ground on the facility in 2013.

It is building the facility to meet the needs and expectations of the tire market, where the firm expects solid growth in S-SBR, she said. It will serve the global tire market, including the U.S.

Completion of the plant will create more than 160 new jobs, about 11 of them in research and development, according to the spokeswoman.