Germany's Selit investing $45 million in US

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Photo by Selit North America Inc. Selit extrudes polystyrene foam sheet used under laminate floors. It is planning new plant and U.S. headquarters in Georgia.

Selit North America Inc. will invest $45m (€39m) in an extruded polystyrene foam plant for Banks County, Georgia, US. The company is a sister company of Selit Dämmtechnik GmbH, which is based in Erbes-Büdesheim, Germany.

The plant, due to come on stream in late 2019, will specialise in extruding thin PS foam for acoustic and thermal insulation of floating floors like laminate, parquet and vinyl floor systems. Such thin foams are used by do-it-yourself customers as well as flooring manufacturers.

Daniel Stratenhoff, chief financial officer for Selit North America, said in an email that the Banks County project will be the new headquarters for Selit North America. The company's current sales office in Atlanta will relocate to the new headquarters. Banks County is about 80 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Stratenhoff declined to say how big the Banks County facility will be, but the company said in a news release that the project will result in about 100 jobs and the facility will include manufacturing and administrative personnel.

Selit began North American production in 2010 when it set up its first PS extrusion line in Plattsburg, New York. A second line was installed in 2013, which boosted annual production capacity to 432 million square feet of extruded PS foam. At about that time the Plattsburg operation also installed a recycling plant to capture scrap and return it to the production process.

In Europe, Selit is a leader in thin PS foams for flooring underlayment. It makes and sells a wide range of thin PS foams to absorb shock and sound when laid under floating floors. The foams are typically 3 millimetres or less thick. Some products incorporate polyurethane, but these have not yet been sold in North America.

Extruded PS foam underlayment is established in Europe but is not a mature application in North America, where cheaper polyethylene foam sheet is now dominant. Selit North America claims it has the most market share for its type of products in Europe.

"Our product pipeline is full of innovative ideas to add value to the do-it-yourself sector and the flooring industry to the benefit of craft businesses as well as home repairers throughout North America," Selit North America shareholder Marco Seitner said in an Aug. 20 news release.

Selit's products are becoming more popular because they are easy to install. For the DIY installer the products typically come as fan-folded panels, which are easy to unfold and lay down to fit under laminate, wood and tile flooring, explained Selit North America President Kees Schellingerhoudt in a phone interview.

Stratenhoff said Selit North America will keep the Plattsburg facility open when the Banks County operation starts up. The Plattsburg site also makes non-flooring products. He declined to indicate which products will be made in Banks County.

In Europe, Selit has been expanding and modernising its Erbes-Büdesheim production and warehouse space. An affiliate, Selit-Por Schaumfolien GmbH, also recently expanded in Blumberg, Germany,

In June 2017, NMC International sarl acquired a majority ownership in two Selit companies by buying stakes held by Marco and Rouven Seitner. NMC, a specialist in synthetic foams, is based in Weiswampach, Luxembourg. Selit estimated last year that the combined businesses would have annual sales of about €270m and more than 1,800 employees.

"Georgia, and particularly Banks County, have emerged as our preferred location and partners due to their highly professional approach towards economic development," noted Selit North America shareholder Rouven Seitner in a news release.

Banks County is a thinly populated region in northeast Georgia. It is the birthplace of Baseball Hall of Famer Ty Cobb.

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