One good thing about the down-tick economy of 2008 and beyond is that outsourcing to overseas locations became less attractive as a business model. As the financial melt-down affected the U.S., other parts of the world felt its pinch, too. So when a polymer manufacturing company halted its plan to go offshore to the Middle East, two enterprising businessmen in the U.S. decided to buy the equipment that had already been shipped overseas and find a stateside location to set up their own venture.
Polymera, Inc. was founded in 2010 by Maan Said, who serves as President, and Herb Hutchison, who is Vice President/General Manager. “We were in a situation that was the exact reverse of typical offshoring,” said Hutchison. “A company had intended to take advantage of the low-cost labor in the Middle East, and then scrapped its plans. There were 47 containers of equipment shipped over there – that’s about 850,000 pounds,” he said. “We decided that here was an opportunity to buy almost everything we needed to start a very modern plant and all we needed was a place to do business.”
With input from PolymerOhio, a polymer industry-specific Ohio Edison Technology Center funded by the Ohio Department of Development, and help from a realtor, Said and Hutchison conducted their search through dozens of plants in five states and landed in Ohio. PolymerOhio has an active re-shoring program and provides networking and collaborative support to companies interested in locating in Ohio. Hutchison and Said were pleased to find the 160,000 ft.2 facility in Hebron that seemed “just right.”
Then the hard work began. “The last shipment of equipment arrived around Christmas 2010, and we are still completing the installation,” reported Hutchison. “Our plan is to fully commission the plant in September 2011.” Hutchison said that once electricity was brought into the manufacturing area, Polymera got one extrusion line up and running, and the company has been able to do limited, custom research and development runs since spring 2011. Polymera offers material preparation, blending, and extrusion of materials and products that service the wood and natural fiber polymer composites (WPC) industry. “We provide compounds as pellets or agglomerates for injection, extrusion, and compression molders to use,” said Hutchison. “We sell to manufacturers who use these compounded materials for such products as window or door components.”
Polymera supplies WPC materials as agglomerates or compounds, or with blending systems capable of over 50 million pounds of compounds annually. They have high-output, energy-efficient twin screw WPC extrusion lines for custom profile development. “This system is the most automated in the market today and is likely the last system of its size to be commissioned in the world,” Hutchison said. “We have such tremendous flexibility in what we will be able to create in terms of raw materials, additive packages, and the number of additives or variations in formulations,” he said.
Envisioning a 50 to 60 million pound annual capacity, Hutchison sees Polymera’s chief function as helping companies transition from traditional wood and/or plastic materials to a greener WPC product. “We can help these companies with recommendations on material choices, their line equipment options, and we can do trials or limited production runs on a transitional basis,” he said. Hutchison said that “Helping our customers establish products through limited production on our equipment while they transition to in-house manufacturing is but one way we can help accelerate the WPC conversion."
Polymera is poised to be a leader as the green revolution continues its influence on the polymer industry. With truly advanced equipment, the company will establish its reputation by taking the past decade’s phenomenal growth in WPC materials and addressing environmental concerns such as deforestation and sustainability with plastic-wood fiber products. However, Polymera will also catch a lot of attention for its bold move to bring a major polymer manufacturing facility back from overseas and create many news jobs in Ohio.
Polymera is a state-of-the-art manufacturer of wood/natural fiber composite products (WPC) including both compounds and finished custom extruded products. Located in Hebron, Ohio, Polymera has one of the most advanced fiber polymer composites operations in existence today with a capacity of over 50 million pounds per year. Formulations include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) polymers in both standard and custom versions. Product lines include Merablend™ compounded fiber polymer composite materials, Merawood™ custom manufactured WPC extrusions on a private label basis and Meraplast™ technology solutions.
PolymerOhio, Inc. is a polymer industry-specific Ohio Edison Technology Center, which is funded by the Ohio Department of Development. PolymerOhio focuses on enhancing the global competitiveness of the polymer industry, including companies from the plastics, rubber, bioproducts, and advanced materials segments. For more information, go to http://www.polymerohio.org.