Akron-headquartered Gabriel Performance Products is investing more than $2 million to expand capacity for mercaptan epoxy curing agents at its Ashtabula plant.
The specialty chemical company made the announcement earlier this month.
Gabriel has seen an increased demand for its CapCure- and Gabepro-brand poly-mercaptan epoxy curing agents, according to a news release. The agents have rapid cure speed and hardness properties used in DIY consumer, automotive and other industrial products, as well as in the construction and concrete markets, a company spokeswoman said.
The demand is being driven by a rising global middle class, whose members are owning more durable goods and, thus, extending the lives of them, she said. Demand also is coming from a steady growth in the construction segments, she said.
To meet that demand, Gabriel in the third quarter of last year embarked on the first phase of its plant improvements, which included an upgrade to “all aspects of the system, from reactors to computer control systems,” the spokeswoman said. That work — details of which are proprietary, she said — boosted mercaptan capacity by about 15%.
About $1 million was spent on upgrades in 2017, she said, with the remainder going toward improvements this year. The next phase, expected to be implemented by the fourth quarter of this year, “involves re-engineering another process vessel to increase it useful capacity,” she said. That will increase the plant’s mercaptan capacity by another 15% to 20%, the release said.
The capacity expansion, however, will not add any new workers to the Ashtabula plant, which employs about 60 people.
While its Ohio production remains in Ashtabula — the company also has a production site in Rock Hill, S.C. that focuses on its Phenoxy and Versamid product lines — Gabriel moved its headquarters and office staff to Akron in 2016. Its site in the AES Building in downtown Akron houses the executive staff, human resources, accounting, information technology and the supply chain — about 12 employees in all.
Gabriel moved its headquarters to Akron because it was seeking more of urban area to provide greater access to its customer base and a strong workforce, Gabriel CEO Seth Tomasch told Crain’s at the time of the move. The company also wanted to be closer to hotels and airports, Tomasch said.
Gabriel provides epoxy curing agents and additives, Phenoxy and alkyd resins, and specialty and custom chemical manufacturing.