Ampacet Corporation

660 White Plains Road
Tarrytown, New York 10591
U.S.A
.
Telephone: (914) 631-6600
Fax: (914) 631-7278
Web site: https://www.ampacet.com

Private Company
Founded:
1937 as American Molding Powder & Chemical Corp.
Employees: 1,600
Sales: $630.18 million (2018 est.)
NAICS: 325130 Synthetic Dye and Pigment Manufacturing

The Ampacet Corporation is the world's largest provider of color compounds and concentrates used by plastics manufacturers to produce consistent colors and chemical characteristics, including antifog, antistatic, antioxidant, and flame-retardant properties. Based in Tarrytown, New York, the company produces utility and specialty white, black, and additive masterbatches and custom and stock colorants. These products, which are sold to more than 90 countries, can be used by almost all plastic processing methods, including extrusion coating, blown and cast films, blownware, injection molding, wire and cable, pipe and conduit, and fiber spinning. The industries served include agricultural, consumer, fiber, packaging, pipe and conduit, and wire and cable. Applications for Ampacet's products include aerospace, appliances, automotive, beauty and cosmetics, health care, home decor, sporting goods, and three-dimensional printing. In North America, Ampacet operates manufacturing facilities in Terre Haute, Indiana; Cartersville, Georgia; DeRidder, Louisiana; Crockett, Texas; Heath, Ohio; and Kitchener, Canada. The company also maintains a research and development center in Terre Haute and an office in Cincinnati, Ohio. In Latin America, Ampacet operates plants in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. In Europe, it has facilities in Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom. The company also maintains a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region via facilities in Australia, China, India, and New Zealand. Ampacet is privately owned by descendants of Norman Alexander, who acquired the company in 1954 and retained sole ownership until his death in 2006.

EARLY YEARS

Ampacet was founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1937 as the American Molding Powder & Chemical Corp. It was acquired by Anton Bamberger, well known in the plastics field at the time, and a group of investors in 1941. During the war years the company recycled acetate from nylon stockings, which was then used to make parachutes for the military. For the next 25 years the company acted as a recycler, using scrap to produce products such as injection-molded combs, brushes, toys, and houseware items. In 1954 Norman Alexander bought the business.

COMPANY PERSPECTIVES

Plastics Reimagined

During this period he bought a more mundane business, Ansbacher-Siegel Corp., a Staten Island manufacturer of organic pigments that were used to make inks, paints, plastics, cosmetics, and textiles. One of its customers was American Molding Powder & Chemical, which Alexander added to his portfolio in 1954. Three years later, in 1957, he acquired the Sun Chemical Corp. and merged it with Ansbacher-Siegel. The running of the company consumed much of Alexander's time, as did his real estate speculation and other business interests. Because he was always striving to become the market leader in whatever industry he was involved, Alexander supported American Molding Powder & Chemical, investing profits to grow the business. However, he essentially took a hands-off approach, allowing the executives he hired to run the show.

In 1958 David Weil joined American Molding Powder & Chemical. He first worked as an export manager, then from 1960 to 1970 he served as the executive vice president and general manager. In 1970 he became president and CEO. When Weil went to work for the company, it had around $450,000 in annual sales, but with Alexander's backing the company began producing steady growth.

FOCUSING ON COLOR COMPOUNDS AND CONCENTRATES

In 1964 the company opened a plant in Mount Vernon, New York, which also housed its headquarters. The following year it changed its name to Ampacet Corporation, an acronym that was drawn from American Molding Powder & Chemical. Its primary business was in plastics compounding and scrap and regrind recycling. Its yearly sales reached the $1 million level, but during the mid-1960s Ampacet's management realized there was little future in scrap recycling, so it decided to shift the company's focus to color compounds and concentrates. It was a move that took advantage of new developments by pigment makers, which produced pigments that were more forgiving when made in concentrates. Moreover, resin manufacturers increasingly turned to outside compounders such as Ampacet that devoted their resources to color rather than maintain an in-house unit with less capability. The most important customer for Ampacet as it completed its transformation was the Mobil Chemical Co., a large producer of polyethylene film, which was used to make trash can liners and other products. The film market was a key reason that Ampacet prospered.

Ampacet added other capabilities as well. In 1969 it developed color concentrates for extrusion coating, and the following year it began producing fire-retardant concentrates. In 1976 it introduced multifunction concentrates, and in 1979 it began offering single pigment concentrates for engineering products. To serve its expanding business, the company opened its Terre Haute plant in 1972, and another manufacturing facility in DeRidder, Louisiana, in 1977. By 1980, 15 years after switching its focus from a $1 million a year plastic scrap business to the production of concentrate pigments, Ampacet had grown its annual sales to $40 million.

KEY DATES
1937:
The company is founded as the American Molding Powder & Chemical Corp.
1954:
Norman Alexander acquires the company.
1965:
The company's name is changed to Ampacet Corporation.
1972:
The plant in Terre Haute, Indiana, opens.
1987:
A plant is opened in Belgium.
1998:
Robert DeFalco becomes president.
2000:
A plant is opened in Thailand.
2006:
Alexander dies; the company ownership remains in the family.
2007:
The company opens an office in Shanghai, China.
2018:
A plant in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is scheduled to open.

EXPANDING MARKETS AND INNOVATION

Ampacet's future also depended on being able to offer new and innovative solutions to customers, whose needs had grown more complicated because of more stringent environmental regulations. To strengthen its research and development capabilities, Ampacet opened the Corporate Technical Center in Terre Haute in 1990. By the early 1990s the company was enjoying a 10 percent annual growth rate and topping $300 million in annual revenues. In many industries, such as automotive, metal parts were increasingly being replaced with plastic, which required the services of colorant and pigment companies. Other growth markets for colorants included wire and cable, vinyl building products, and synthetic fiber. To improve profitability, Ampacet also began offering high-performance specialty additives and high-gloss colors that commanded a much higher price than commodity items. In 1995 Ampacet opened its $17.5 million Cartersville, Georgia, plant north of Atlanta. It began offering pigment concentrates to color nylon, polyester, and other synthetic fibers. Cartersville also allowed Ampacet to become more involved in the engineering plastics market.

During the 1990s Ampacet was eager to become more of a global company. By the middle of the decade North America accounted for 35 percent of the world masterbatch market, followed by Europe with 33 percent, Asia with 27 percent, and other markets with 5 percent. Ampacet claimed a 13 percent market share on world masterbatch sales and established a target of 20 percent within five years. A sales target of $700 million to be reached by 2002 was also set. In 1993 Ampacet established a sales office in Kuala Lumpur. The company then bolstered its position in the European market with the 1996 acquisition of Tisco S.R.L. in Telgate, Italy, a maker of engineering-grade thermoplastic compounds. In addition, Ampacet forged alliances with Pomini S.R. L., an Italian maker of continuous extrusion and compounding equipment, and Kafrit Industries, an Israeli firm that developed and sold value-added agricultural film masterbatches.

Ampacet was especially active in 1998, when it created a joint venture in Argentina with Biblos Color to serve the fast-growing South American market. It also acquired the Canadian company Baron Colour Concentrates Ltd., a masterbatch supplier that mostly served the flexible packaging sector. In addition, Ampacet added 33 million pounds of capacity to its Belgian plant. Also of note in 1998, Weil stepped down as Ampacet's president, turning over the position to Robert DeFalco, who had spent eight years heading the European operation from Luxembourg. At that point the company had reached $400 million in yearly revenues. Three years later Weil retired, making DeFalco CEO of the company as well.

DOMESTIC AND GLOBAL EXPANSION

Ampacet completed a major acquisition in 1999, buying Equistar Chemicals' Color and Compound division, which added manufacturing plants in Crockett, Texas, and Heath, Ohio, and 160 million pounds of new production capacity. The acquisition also brought Ampacet into the compounding business, which primarily served the wire and cable industry. Also of great importance was the addition of Equistar's Cincinnati research and development center, a smaller affair than Terre Haute but one that was well equipped and employed five researchers experienced in developing concentrates for the wire and cable, foam, and rotational molding markets.

For more than half a century the company had prospered under the private ownership of Norman Alexander, free from the pressures that accompany a public company. In December 2006, at age 92, Alexander died, leaving the company in the hands of family ownership. CFO Joel Slutsky told Frank Esposito in the Plastics News in January 2007 that although Alexander had not been involved in the company's day-to-day operations, he was “a very astute business person, very compassionate and very smart.” Adding, “His focus was on growing the company. It was a nurturing relationship.” The year of Alexander's death, the company reported annual sales of more than $650 million with a workforce of 1,400. During the remainder of the decade, Ampacet continued to expand its global footprint, establishing a sales office in Shanghai, China, in 2007, followed by the opening of a manufacturing facility there in May 2009.

EXPANDING MARKET AND TECHNICAL CAPABILITIES

In December 2010 Ampacet announced that it would open new plants in Brazil and India and expand its facilities in Italy, all during 2011. Besides expanding its capacity and market penetration abroad, Ampacet upgraded plants in Louisiana and Georgia and expanded its Kitchener facility in Canada. In 2016 the Kitchener site doubled in size. With the closure of the company's British Columbia facility in 2009, all Canadian operations were now headquartered in the Kitchener facility.

Ampacet's growth was not only geographic. Market demand for price-sensitive, lighter weight, and technologically feature-laden products drove the company's commitment to create new materials. For example, in 2009 it introduced a line of masterbatch colorants that could be used with polycarbonate, polypropylene, polystyrene, and other formulations to create a metal look-alike in either a brushed aluminum or high-gloss chrome finish. Manufacturers welcomed this as a way to produce parts that were immune to scratches and dents, minimizing weight and streamlining the achievement of a metal-like effect in plastic.

Packaging materials represented another area of innovation for the company. In 2017 Ampacet introduced its SynTear and Paper 2.0 technologies, which could be used to create deli wrap, food packets, and snack pouch packaging, because the material tore in any direction, like paper, but had food-preserving properties. In 2018 Ampacet hosted a Sensory Innovation seminar in Australia to introduce a wide range of these products to packaging manufacturers. That same year the company also announced its intention to increase its presence in new markets, including health care, three-dimensional printing, and appliances, while also pursuing environmental sustainability through biobased or biodegradable materials. It also planned to create applications that would improve manufacturers' ability to use recycled materials.

Changes were also happening at the executive level. In 2014 DeFalco announced that he would retire in March of the following year, after 17 years at the helm of the company. Taking over from DeFalco in April 2015 was Yves Carette, who originally joined Ampacet in 1986 as part of the team that established the company's first European operations. During Carette's premier years as president, Ampacet opened a new plant in Australia in 2017 and was set to open its first facility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2018.

Ed Dinger
Updated, Pamela Willwerth Aue

PRINCIPAL DIVISIONS

Asia; Europe; Latin America; North America.

PRINCIPAL COMPETITORS

A. Schulman, Inc.; BASF SE; Clariant AG.

FURTHER READING

“Ampacet Plans $3.8 Million Modernization.” Tribune-Star (Terre Haute, IN), March 1, 2017.

“Ampacet Plans New Manufacturing Plants in Brazil, India and Italy in 2011.” MRCPlast.com , December 13, 2010.

“Ampacet Serves up Sensory Feast for Flexibles.” Packaging News, March 1, 2018.

Esposito, Frank. “Alexander Shapes Ampacet Present, Future.” Plastics News, July 15, 2002.

———. “Ampacet Refocusing on Markets and Regions.” Plastics News, June 18, 2018.

———. “Ampacet Tears into New Applications with SynTear.” Plastics News, November 29, 2017.

———. “Ampacet's N. Alexander Dies at 92; Company to Remain in Family Hands.” Plastics News, January 1, 2007.

———. “DeFalco Retiring after 17 Years as Ampacet Executive.” Plastics News, February 20, 2015.

“Masterbatch Colorants Achieve Metal Look.” Product News Network, June 3, 2009.

Tullo, Alex. “Ampacet Pushes for Aggressive Growth.” Chemical Market Reporter, June 28, 1999.