WAPAKONETA — There are reasons for cautious optimism in 2014 at AMETEK Westchester Plastics in Wapakoneta.
Wapakoneta plant manager Ron Gasior realizes that while national economic growth continues to hover around 2 to 3 percent, his plant’s customers will continue to grow their business with him.
“The good news is that one of our principal business sectors, automotive, remains very robust, and we see a lot of positive press coming out of the Detroit Auto Show about the new model introductions,” Wapakoneta plant manager Ron Gasior said. “Some manufacturers say that demand for their products is up, and we have read positive announcements from Ford about its new F-150 truck and about the new models from Honda, such as the Acura TLX that will be manufactured at the Marysville assembly plant.
“Many of the components for those vehicles will be supported locally, which bodes well for manufacturing in the region,” he said. “And, while those components are not specific to AMETEK, the automotive sector is one of our largest segments. This sort of news is promising for us.”
AMETEK Westchester Plastics is an independent toll compounder of highly customized engineering resins, alloys, blends, reactive modifiers and other thermoplastic materials that are broadly used by numerous industries in a range of applications. Automotive is just one of many. Some others include the appliance, housing and construction industries.
The Wapakoneta facility has been in operation for more than 50 years, custom compounding a wide range of plastic resins. Its capabilities include state-of-the-art twin screw compounding and continuous-mixer technology.
“We expect to see increasing demand in 2014 for time on our research and development compounding line,” Gasior said. “Customers have been very receptive to using this state-of-the-art compounding line that was purpose built and commissioned in 2011.
“It affords them the opportunity to conduct development trials and produce a wide variety of polymer compounds that push the design envelope for specific applications in a broad range of end use markets,” he said, “and it certainly helps that when some of these development projects gain traction and reach commercial status, that the plant has a full range of production machines capable of producing large quantities of material for shipment via rail or via truck with easy access to major highways that are immediately adjacent to the plant.”
As a materials producer, the plant basically starts with small plastic beads made by leading plastics producers and then adds fillers, such as minerals and glass, and other additives to improve the properties and performance of the plastic material. The end product is typically highly customized and proprietary to a specific customer.
“When you have an industry reputation for manufacturing excellence and 54 years of experience, it tells you the formula is working,” Gasior said. “We expect the plant to run 24-7 this year to meet specific customer demand.
“At the start of the year, we were at full employment and expect to remain so. One of the principal attributes of our folks here is very low turnover. The average experience level is 28 years, and the turnover is basically retirement. That says a lot about our workers and a lot about the company.”
The Wapakoneta plant recently installed two new lines and made improvements to other equipment at its 250,000-square-foot plant on Cemetery Road. It added a mega compounder and extrusion system for commercial work and a different line and extrusion system for development projects. The plant also upgraded and lengthened one line and rebuilt and upgraded a continuous mixer.
With the expansion, Wapakoneta now has eight production lines and the capacity to produce approximately 165 million pounds annually of commodity and engineering resins.
AMETEK Westchester Plastics is a unit of Ametek Inc., a leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices headquartered in Berywn, Pa., with annual sales of $3.6 billion.