Rapid Granulator brings US production back under company control

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Photo by Rapid Granulator From left to right: Dan Boll, Bengt Rimark, Ulf Karlsson and Jim Hoffman.

Updated — Rapid Granulator AB, the Swedish-owned maker of granulators and shredding equipment, is making an investment to bring its U.S. production back under its full control, by opening a 65,000-square-foot plant in Leetsdale, Pa., a city along the Ohio river north of Pittsburgh.

Rapid announced the new plant on April 5. Rapid President Bengt Rimark said the plant, in an existing building in an industrial park, started limited production in December.

“We're planning to be up and running with everything early this quarter. Hopefully within the end of this month, the target is to have everything up and running.”

The building includes a 3,500-square-foot showroom, warehouse space and offices.

Rapid is not releasing expected unit production numbers or saying how many people they expect to employ at the Leetsdale operation.

Jim Hoffman, vice president of sales and marketing for Rapid Granulator, said the company has been outsourcing production in the United States since 2008, when IPEG Inc. moved Rapid production from its separate plant in Illinois into Conair’s main plant in Franklin, Pa.

More recently, in early 2015, IPEG sold Rapid to a Swedish company, Lifco AB.

Conair and Rapid Granulator had operated as sister companies, under IPEG. IPEG was building Rapid equipment for the U.S. market at a plant in Franklin, Pa., that it shared with Conair.

“This is an extremely important move for Rapid,” Hoffman said. “In the near future, we will have full control over U.S. production, just like we have in Sweden and just like we had here in the past. It is really important for us to have the responsibility for the quality and reliability of our equipment in our own hands.”

Rimark said Rapid looked at locations in other states. “But we had key players there, we had really good supliers in the area, so we felt that was a good spot for us. We felt that we could get the ground running by doing that,” he said.

Rapid wanted to keep its existing employees, in western Pennsylvania, as well as draw from a good local talent pool in the area.

Rapid will continue to supply other companies with granulators, Rimark said.

Hoffman said Rapid had a record year in 2016 in the United States, as well as globally. “But we are very ambitious,” he said “The North American market right now is healthy and growing, but we want to grow even faster.”

Hoffman said Rapid will source key electrical components from U.S. suppliers. The auxiliary maker wants to meet demand for equipment stamped “Made in America,” he said.

Rapid Granulator was founded in 1942 in Bredaryd, Sweden.

Rimark said Rapid is transitioning to its own U.S. facility, and IPEG has helped through the process.

“It works very well. They are very accommodating and very supportive in this process. It’s a very good relationship with our previous owners,” he said.

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