SPARTANBURG, S.C.—Polydeck Screen Corp., a leading provider of polyurethane and rubber screen media and specialty screening solutions, is expanding its operations in South Carolina during one of the most growth-oriented periods in the company's history.
The manufacturer of modular polyurethane, rubber and specialty screening products for the aggregate, coal and mining industries recently purchased a building and nearly four acres adjacent to its existing facility, increasing its manufacturing footprint to approximately 129,000 square feet.
The $12 million expansion will provide additional space for a research and development lab, an expanded tool and die facility, and material warehousing, according to Senior Marketing Manager Dennis Zeiger.
“We had a warehouse facility on the other side of town, but when the adjacent facility became available, it made sense to close that warehouse and move here,” Zeiger said. “This allows us to expand the research and development part of our business and increase our ability to engage in research testing.
“We will be able to conduct more prototyping testing in-house rather than contracting it out,” which could mean adding more personnel in R&D.
The close proximity of the new plant will allow Polydeck to analyze results more efficiently, the company said. The tool and die department will be moved to the adjacent building, giving staff more room for EDM, CNC and other machines used to produce tooling for the manufacturing operations.
For more than 35 years, Polydeck's goal has been to provide its customers with products that offer high-quality construction, high open area, long wear life and minimal maintenance. The company is responsible for more than 50 global patents.
Over the last few years, growth has been an ongoing theme. Double-digit growth has been the norm during the last decade, except for 2008-09, when the economy and the industry temporarily stalled, Zeiger said. The family-owned business focuses on screen media, which allows it to be nimble in meeting customer needs with a range of offerings while maintaining efficient turnaround times.
All of Polydeck's PU and rubber screen panels are made through an injection molding process, ensuring accurate openings and consistent construction, panel after panel. Injection molding means that surface features, such as dams and skid bars, are not glued or bolted on, but rather are an integrated part of the panel's construction. This reinforces the company's value proposition of quality, performance and service despite a higher initial price than traditional solutions, the firm said.
With the expansion, Polydeck hopes to add as many as 40 employees in a variety of roles. It already employs more than 250 worldwide, with the majority in South Carolina.
Polydeck focuses on three main industry sectors: aggregate, coal and hard rock mining. A large percentage of the business is in aggregate where many clients still use old wire cloth technology. These aggregate customers are challenged with choosing the best screening solution for a variety of rock types, mining approaches and material specifications.
Further growth is possible if Polydeck is able to promote and educate existing and potential new customers of the benefits of its synthetic media. The upfront cost may be higher, but the long-term cost savings can be significant, said Zeiger, who added that competing on price alone is one of the major challenges the company faces.
“The payback is significant because our screen media offerings can last up to 15-20 times longer than competitive options, and many of our customers can literally realize a cost savings in a year or even less,” he said. “But that's an educational process because it can be hard to convince some organizations that higher up-front cost will have significant cost and labor-saving benefits down the road.”
In mid-2013, Polydeck opened a satellite manufacturing facility in Chile to address the needs of the mining industry in South America. With a growing market in need of rubber screen panels, the company is able to save significantly on shipping costs and time while being more responsive to urgent customer needs.
“The addition of manufacturing capabilities in Chile did not impact our employees up here at all and simply added to our global capabilities and service,” Zeiger said. “We are and always will be an American company.”