WOOSTER, Ohio, June 11, 2003 – Seaman Corporation, world leader in innovating the design and manufacture of high performance industrial fabrics, has completed a $7 million expansion project at its primary manufacturing facility here.
Dedicated June 11, the project positions the company as a leader in hot melt fabric technology, capacity and capability.
In Seaman’s many international markets, the investment cements the company’s reputation for quality and innovation, dramatically increasing production capacity and wider fabric width options.
In the Wooster, Ohio, area, the investment and its associated growth projection secures the future strength of the company as a key corporate citizen in the community. The project will result in 17 new jobs while protecting some 54 existing positions. It also reinforces the need for allied products produced in Seaman’s Bristol, Tennessee, manufacturing facility.
“Dedication of this project represents one of the most important moments in the 54-year history of our family company,” said Richard Seaman, president and chief executive officer of Seaman Corporation.
“This critical investment allows us to produce fabrics at significantly higher speeds and in wider widths than ever before, which will greatly improve our cost competitive position and our ability to meet or exceed the growing needs of our many customers.”
The project included the purchase and installation of a state-of-the-art custom designed hot melt calender coating line, produced in Italy, representing revolutionary approaches to fabric production. To house the calender coating line, the company constructed a 19,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing facility in Wooster.
The calender line will be used to manufacture various PVC, Elvaloy and urethane hot melt compounds, actually doubling the capacity of the company’s existing calender machines.
Initially, the calender line is producing fabric up to 76 inches wide – a significant improvement over the company’s previous 56-inch capability. Ultimately, the new machine will produce fabric 100 inches wide, which will help customers contain the cost of fabricating and installing large sections of fabric on rooftops, on waste containment sites and on other major projects.
These advantages are expected to accelerate sales growth specifically for Seaman Corporation’s FiberTite® Roofing Systems, XR-5® geomembranes and Shelter-Rite® architectural, truck tarp, fuel tank and military tent fabric products.
“As this project grew from my original, optimistic estimate of $3 million to $6 million, and ultimately to a $7 million project, financing became a critical issue,” commented Mr. Seaman during the dedication ceremony at the plant.
“While it was possible to get conventional bank financing, I was interested in longer term financing with more competitive rates that would be fixed for a long period of time. The Ohio Department of Development was very responsive to our needs and has provided a financing project that has enabled us to fund 65 percent of this project with long-term, low-interest, fixed rate loans.”
Those arrangements included:
• A taxable bond issue of up to $3.2 million through the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund, to be paid back to the state over the next 15 years at 7.3 percent interest.
• A $1.1 million low-interest loan, at 3.25 percent, arranged through the Ohio Department of Development’s 166 Direct Loan Program.
• A $375,000 loan at 4.25 percent, a 166 Regional Loan arranged through the Akron Region of the Ohio Department of Development.
“The quick responsiveness of the Ohio Department of Development is the primary reason we made the decision to make this capital investment and expansion in our Wooster facility instead of in Bristol, Tennessee,” added Mr. Seaman. The event was attended by Bruce Johnson, Director of the Ohio Department of Development.
Mr. Seaman also thanked the city of Wooster, represented at the event by Mayor James Howey, for its support including a commitment to extend Venture Boulevard to Silver Road.
Further, Mr. Seaman praised the cooperation of Rodolfo-Comerio, the Italian firm which manufactured the calender in a year-long process, as well as Freeman Building Systems and various other contractors and workers involved in the project.
He further recognized the efforts of the project manager, Ken Chaloupek, Seaman Corporation’s vice president of engineering, who coordinated the efforts of 10 individual teams of Seaman Corporation associates who worked on the project over two years.
“The success of this on-time project is directly related to the hard work and effort by every member of the project teams and the excellent equipment delivered by the major suppliers that were selected,” said Mr. Seaman.
“For nearly two years, I met monthly with the leader of each team to review and coordinate our project progress. We made trips every 60 to 90 days to Italy to review and coordinate the design and construction work being done by Comerio. And last September, my wife, Judy, and I had the pleasure of seeing the pre-installation of our new coating line in Milan, Italy, just prior to shipment.”
Construction of the 19,000-square-foot building addition was completed late last summer, and parts of the hot melt calender coating line started to arrive the first week of November. Actual production began in May.
Mr. Seaman said the project is an extension of the family business’ longtime commitment to hot melt fabric technology, recalling his father’s $300,000 investment in the then-revolutionary coating equipment back in 1968, when the company’s sales were just $3 million.
“My father had a vision that this new technology would enable him to develop and make fabric that could not be manufactured in the liquid coating processes,” said Mr. Seaman. “These products would use a significantly less costly resin and the coating process itself was much more environmentally friendly because it did not utilize solvents and there was much less volatilization in the curing process.”
The commitment was advanced with the company’s purchase of its Bristol, Tennessee, operation in 1976. Ironically, the Bristol company also had been experimenting with hot melt technology, although it had not experienced Seaman’s success.
“Through this process, we were able to manufacture cost-effective vinyl coatings,” said Mr. Seaman. “We also developed the ability to process urethane-coated fabrics that continue to be used today for flexible fuel storage tanks for the military, in some cases containing as much as 210,000 gallons of fuel.
“This equipment enabled us to take advantage of a new polymer offered by DuPont in the middle ‘70s. We were able to alloy this polymer with our standard vinyl resin and develop high performance chemical resistant products. This technology is the basis today for our XR-5 geomembrane material and our FiberTite Roofing Systems.”
The resulting success actually forced the company to approach its latest expansion to accommodate continuing product demand and to control manufacturing costs.
The dedication event was attended by over 200 people, who also were afforded a tour of the new facility.
For information, contact Seaman Corporation at 330-262-1111 or toll-free 800-927-8578. Seaman Corporation, 1000 Venture Blvd., Wooster, OH 44691. [email protected]