ORLANDO, Fla.—It didn't take long for Armacell L.L.C. to expand under its new ownership.
After being bought by private equity firms Blackstone Group L.P. and Kirkbi a.s., Armacell is expanding into Russia with its own production facility for high-performance insulation foams. The facility is located in Lobnya, north of Moscow, and will produce high density materials to serve major distributors and general construction companies in the region.
Tom Himmel, vice president of Armacell's Americas Division, said during the Gasketing and Converting Expo in Orlando on April 8 that a big part of the firm's strategy on the insulation side is substituting other materials—such as fiberglass—with other forms of insulation. However another element to the plan is geographic expansion.
“Eastern Europe in particular is some open space for us,” the executive said. “We traditionally have been importing product from our plants in Germany and Poland into Russia, but an opportunity had come up to build a plant in Russia.
“It's the right time, and we're excited to be able to expand in Russia,” Himmel said. “Despite what the economy may or may not be doing, from an insulation standpoint there's always going to be a need. Even the Russian economy cares about energy conservation and the comfort of people's homes. There's a nice market that's available to us.”
Armacell said in a news release that it has been present in Russia since 2008. In March 2010, the subsidiary OOO Armacell Rus was established, and warehouses in Novosibrisk, Krasnodar and Saint Petersburg were added in the following two years. The expansion of the distribution network and diversity in the customer portfolio led to the brownfield construction of its own production site in the region, the company added.
Armacell's two main businesses are Advanced Insulation and Engineered Foams. Its insulation unit makes flexible foam products used in commercial and residential construction, industrial applications, and in the oil and gas industries.
The firm produces elastomeric rubber, EPDM, polyvynal chloride, nitrile rubber and other rolefinic foams out of polyethylene, polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
Armacell has been busy in the Americas region, too. It recently relocated its North America headquarters from its production site in Mebane, N.C., to Chapel Hill, N.C. Himmel said it was time for the firm to get a first-class headquarters for office space.
In 2015, Armacell established its first manufacturing base in Canada by purchasing Thermo Polymers Ltd. (ITP), a producer of extruded polyethylene products.
“ITP built a wonderful business,” Himmel said. “They're a solid manufacturer; they've brought unique technologies to us, which have enabled us to drive efficiencies and throughput. We got some great people along with it that are able to grow with us. It gives us a local presence in Canada. Where before it was all imported, now we have a base of operations in the country.”
He said the firm plans to add PET production to the facility in Brampton, Ontario.
“It's a growing business,” Himmel said. “Traditionally it goes into wind turbine blades, and it has a lot of other applications in areas like transportation and construction as well. It's a very unique product. We can make it out of virgin PET resin, but we also have the technology to make it out of recycled PET. We can buy flakes and pelletize them and turn them into foam.”
In addition to Brampton and Mebane, Armacell operates five other manufacturing facilities in North America—at South Holland, Ill.; Spencer, W. Va.; Conover, N.C.; Dallas, Ga.; and one in Brazil.