Originally created 10/10/01

Augusta gains German plant



A German manufacturer of engineered foam products announced Tuesday that Augusta will be the site of its first North American plant.

The Trocellen Group, which supplies specialty foam products to automakers such as BMW and DaimlerChrysler, said it plans to build a 100,000-square-foot plant in south Augusta by mid-2003 that eventually will employ 50.

The $15 million facility will be located on a 13-acre parcel in the Forward Augusta Industrial Park on Tobacco Road.

Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce officials and other economic developers had been courting the Troisdorf, Germany-based company for two years.

Trocellen chose Augusta because of its central location to the Southeast's growing number of European and Japanese auto plants.

"If you look at plastics and the automotive industry, you'll see quite a bit of traffic coming South," said Patrick Shabal, Trocellen's North American sales and marketing manager.

Mr. Shabal also said the company picked Augusta because it is familiar with the city's work force, business climate and energy costs. Trocellen's parent company, HT Troplast AG, is also the parent company of RUTGERS Organics, which operates a specialty chemical plant less than a mile from the proposed Trocellen plant.

"It adds a layer of depth to our international industry in Augusta," chamber President Jim West said during a news conference attended by local leaders and state Industry Trade & Tourism Commissioner R.K. Sehgal.

About 40 percent of Trocellen's polyolefin foam products go to the automotive industry, with the rest being used in everything from sporting goods to building products.

He said the Augusta facility will allow it to better serve existing customers and also make inroads with U.S. automakers.

The Trocellen announcement is the first major development at the Forward Augusta park since toymaker Mattel closed its 300,000-square-foot plant in 1999.

The plant will vent heat and fumes from ovens it will use to expand the foam, but Mr. Shabal said the operation is "pretty safe" compared with most industries.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or dcline@augustachronicle.com.

THE TROCELLEN GROUP

OWNERSHIP: Subsidiary of chemical company HT Troplast AG

OPERATIONS: Foam plants in Germany, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Malaysia and Spain; facilities under construction in Romania, Russia and Augusta

PRODUCT: Speciality polyolefin foam

MAJOR CUSTOMERS: BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen, Audi, Fiat