MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—Masterduct Inc. has acquired a building adjacent to its factory in Houston and will add two direct extrusion lines there by the end of 2015 to expand the line of hose products it makes at the site.
The new 20,000-sq.-ft. facility will be used to manufacture heavier-weight urethane lined hose, utilizing technology from its German parent, Masterflex S.E., said Masterduct Vice President Brad Bembenick. The hose lines have a smooth liner and are very highly abrasion-resistant.
“It's different than other products we already manufacture in the states,” he said. Bembenick discussed the project during the recent NAHAD annual convention in Miami Beach, Fla. He didn't reveal how much the firm is investing in the project.
Masterduct currently produces lighter weight ducting and vehicle exhaust fume extraction hose lines in Houston that contain rubber and highly engineered coated fabrics.
These products, which Masterflex currently makes in Europe, are used for highly abrasive blasting applications, debris removal within the wood industry, certain uses in steel mills and for various fluid transfer applications, Bembenick said.
The firm decided now was the time to bring manufacturing of the lines to Houston because of market potential and the ability to be closer to its customers. “We have been importing it from Germany and got our base going, and now it's time to be able to service our customers from having manufacturing locally and be able to control the costs at the same time,” he said.
With the new building, Masterduct will have about 120,000 square feet of space at its facilities in Houston. It employs more than 80 in the U.S. and will need to add about a dozen workers once the lines are operational by the end of the year, according to Bembenick.
“The trends have been good,” he said. “The industrial market has been good to us—a little slower growth than our HVAC market but they've been on steady growth for the last 10 years.”
Bembenick said there is a lot of cooperation between Masterflex and its U.S. subsidiary, which also oversees a facility in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “Masterflex likes to be a worldwide organization where you can go into any one of our 15 manufacturing facilities and be able to know that you're picking up the same quality product in the U.S. as you would in Germany, in Russia or in Brazil,” he said.
The Americas accounts for close to 18 percent of Masterflex's global sales, he said. In its annual report, Masterflex reported 2014 revenues of about $83 million.
Once the Houston expansion is in place, Masterduct will look to add the extruded hose production to the Brazilian factory as well.
Bembenick said machinery there should be in place by the end of 2016 or early 2017.
While South America has been a difficult place to do business because of taxes and some laws, he said business there still supports the capital investment. “Brazil is a tough market, but you have to hang in there,” he said. “We have local people who have stayed with us and have been able to develop the sales we need to be able to justify putting the equipment into the South American market.”