ATLANTA—Lehigh Technologies Inc. has teamed up with Hera Holding in Europe to expand and globalize Lehigh's micronized rubber powder operation.
The two companies are partnering in Spain to turn a Lehigh subsidiary into a joint venture with plans to build and operate what Lehigh said will be the first micronized rubber powder production facility in Europe.
Called Lehigh Spain, the joint venture's plant will be built in Murillo del Fruto, Spain, next to a tire recycling plant on a site currently owned by Hera, according to Lehigh CEO Alan Barton. He added that the new facility will meet the growing MRP needs of industrial customers across the European Union and neighboring regions.
Lehigh Spain, which was initially formed as a subsidiary of Atlanta-headquartered Lehigh in mid-2015, will continue to develop new markets for the company's PolyDyne and MicroDyne product ranges, focusing on delivering high performance, low cost, sustainable raw materials for applications in the tire, asphalt and other industrial end users, the company said.
“We formed the subsidiary to create a face in the market,” Barton said. “It was the first step in a two-step process. The second step was to create the JV.”
Hera is a full partner in the venture, he noted.
Pre-construction work has begun on the new MRP plant, Barton said, and the firm has begun ordering custom built equipment. “But it will be awhile before steel is in the ground.”
He said Lehigh Spain's facility likely will be up and running, and shipping commercially by the end of the first quarter of 2017.
While he did not have the exact size of the facility available, he said it will be big enough to house two MRP production lines, although initially it will operate one line. It will add a second line as business grows.
Initially, Barton estimated that the plant will employ about 10 and grow from there as business improves.
Adding a production facility in Spain shows “that we're globalizing; we're already shipping product out of our Atlanta site globally,” he said.
Secondly, it will show that there's a need for MRP worldwide and proof that Lehigh can supply a global base, he added.
Barcelona-based Hera and Lehigh, a specialty chemicals producer, began working together and developing a market for MRP in Europe in 2013, and the firms are currently selling into six countries.
Formed in 1984, Hera has recycling operations in Europe, South America and the Middle East.