After the renaming of the ArncoPathway and Zeus Tyre Fill businesses at the start of 2016, Accella began consolidating at the Berea plant the research and development efforts at its plants in South Gate, California – which closed after operations combined with another California plant – and the company’s Chattanooga, Tenn., facility.
This included relocating equipment and hiring a Berea-based research and development director for tire fill, Cunningham said. While there are still some chemistry R&D staff members at other locations, including in Germany, they report to the Berea plant. The team is small – there are seven people total, with three in Berea – but R&D isn’t all that’s going on in Northeast Ohio.
Cunningham said Accella also is moving its manufacturing and technical service support for the tire fill division to Berea. Restaino said Accella focuses on selling complete solutions to its customers, so offering the combination of the material, the machinery and the technical support is important.
“That’s critical to how we approach the market,” Restaino said.
In addition to those updates, the company also intends to expand manufacturing for Accella’s other divisions at the Berea location. The plans are to “significantly expand” production in the tire fill and other product lines in at that site, Mr. Cunningham said, as well as to store products closer to end users in Canada and the Northeast U.S.
And the company has plenty of space for that.
Berea plant manager Sean Freed said the plant has about 112,000 square feet in office and manufacturing space on more than 14 acres, giving the company room if it needs to expand. It has seven lab spaces, though only three, including a quality control lab and a physical testing lab, are currently in use by the company. Cunningham said he expects the company to increase staff and open a new lab in Berea in the next few years.
Freed said the plant already has grown in the past nine months. Accella has added five full-time employees in that time, bringing the total to 18. Additionally, the plant employs two temporary employees who Mr. Freed hopes to bring on full-time.
According to Restaino, there has been about $750,000 in investments in the Berea plant in the past nine months, including the addition of some large mixing stations for the tire fill materials.
Matt Madzy, director of planning, engineering and development for the city of Berea, said he’s excited about Accella’s new focus on R&D at the plant and thinks it’s a “perfect fit.” It capitalizes on the tire and chemical expertise in Northeast Ohio and opens up the plant to developing new products, he added.
Restaino said there’s a slight lull in terms of the tire fill market because of the industries it serves – construction is strong, but oil and gas and mining are not – but that the outlook overall remains positive. And the other polyurethane businesses served by Accella are strong, particularly roofing insulation, according to Cunningham.
All of this means Accella is expecting Berea to play a big part in the company’s plans going forward. In an emailed statement, Harris said he expects the Berea plant to play a “significant role” in the company’s future growth.
Restaino agreed, saying: “We really see the Berea facility as a world-class facility, and we’re building and leveraging off of what’s already here and adding to it to develop our position in the marketplace.”
Meanwhile, the company took the observance of Earth Day on 22 April to put a spotlight on how its flat-proofing solutions – including its environmentally friendly TyrFil product – are alternatives “to combat global tire pollution” by providing alternatives to landfilling tires while increasing performance and defraying costs.