Graham filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a complaint against Bill Kramer on Dec. 21 in Pennsylvania Middle District Court. The civil complaint alleged breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets.
The motion for a restraining order was dismissed and the lawsuit continued with Graham filing claims and Kramer filing motions to dismiss the claims, Kramer said in a Sept. 7 phone interview. The latest motion was one filed by Kramer on May 11 to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Kramer said one reason the case has dragged on is the shortage of appointed judges following the change in the federal administration early this year under new President Donald Trump.
Recent claims filed by Graham mainly centered on disputes over non-compete periods in employment contracts, according to Kramer. He said the non-compete periods mostly expired this past spring.
Graham officials said they have a policy not to comment on pending or potential litigation.
The new company's team includes several former American Kuhne personnel besides Kramer. They include operations expert Dan Schilke; screw designer and process engineer Kevin Slusarz; extrusion engineer Jeff Lawton; salesman Doug Johnson; purchasing and inventory specialist Mike Perri, and communications professional Eric Adair. These employees were all included in a Dec. 28 brief filed in support of a motion by Kramer opposing the temporary restraining order.
Kramer said his new company is building a prototype single-screw extruder that eventually will be part of a laboratory his firm is setting up in Westerly along with manufacturing capability. The new company also is establishing a customer support structure, and extruder repair and restoration services.
US Extruder will offer a guarantee that includes a five-year total warranty for a machine built to a customer's specifications, delivered on time, meeting performance specifications, supported by comprehensive service, free startup and training, and life-time process support.
Machines will be specifically designed for blow molding, blown and cast film, compounding, extrusion coating, fiber, medical, pipe and profile, reclaim, sheet, tubing and wire and cable. Extruders will be available with barrel diameters ranging from 1 inch to 8 inches.
"Our machines will be affordable, reliable, serviceable and high performers," the company said in a news release.
American Kuhne itself was formed 20 years ago by an exodus of officials from a major extruder producer. In 1997 several former employees of Davis-Standard L.L.C. left that company to establish American Kuhne.
Graham bought American Kuhne in 2012, launching the blow molding machinery company into the extruder market. A year later Graham bought Welex, a leader in plastic sheet production systems. Graham subsequently moved Welex sheet line manufacturing from Greenville, N.C., into Graham's York headquarters, which was already designated Graham's blow molding center of excellence.
The name US Extruders underlines the firm's focus on the North American market and its made in America manufacturing strategy. The company said it will extensively use U.S.-made components throughout the extruder assembly.