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Italian plastics company to put first U.S. facility in Lebanon

Sara McManamy-Johnson • Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 11:27 AM

SO.F.TER, one of the world’s largest independent compounders based in Forli, Italy, will be an $11.5 million investment and eventually lead to about 150 new jobs in Wilson County. Construction on the 100,000-square-foot facility is expected to begin next week to open in late December. Officials said plans are to expand the facility to 250,000 square feet in the future.

“I am very excited to have been a part of the location of the SO.F.TER Group to Wilson County,” said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. “I believe that it is a vote of confidence for Wilson County's workforce. I want to thank both the management team of SO.F.TER and members of the Wilson County Commission for their support, which made [Tuesday’s] announcement possible. We congratulate the company on this great news and look forward to being a part of their continued growth.”

Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead said he was excited to see the industry make its first U.S. home in Lebanon. The project was previously referred to as Project Pellet while negotiations were finalized.

"It is our distinct honor to welcome the SO.F.TER Group to Lebanon as our latest corporate citizen," Craighead said. "We are confident that their decision to locate in Lebanon will be a mutually rewarding experience. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with SO.F.TER, which was made possible through our partnership with the state of Tennessee and the JECDB of Wilson County.”

Based on its extensive expertise and a broad list of approvals developed over the last 30 plus years, SO.F.TER officials expect to have a strong presence in the automotive, appliance, construction and electrical markets. Mark Rodden, who brings more than 15 years of managerial experience in plastics compounding, will serve as managing director of SO.F.TER. U.S.

According to Rodden, the new site will be dedicated to the production, development and sale of engineering plastics based on polyamide, polypropylene, thermoplastic elastomers and other advanced solutions for the U.S. market. 

“We are excited to be part of this project that will bring the SO.F.TER Group to the United States,” Rodden said. “SO.F.TER.’s product portfolio is one of the most comprehensive in the industry. SO.F.TER’s experience, financial strength and long-term view will enable us to focus on customers with a one-to-one approach, based on flexible and tailored solutions.”

SO.F.TER Global Commercial Director Riccardo Meucci said he’s pleased with the decision to locate in Lebanon.

“The foundation of SO.F.TER. U.S. is a step of paramount importance in our internationalization strategy,” Meucci said. “In addition to the size and breadth of its markets, we believe the U.S. has excellent prospects for growth. Moreover, the U.S. operation completes our presence in the Americas and complements our presence in Mexico and Brazil. Now, indeed, we can be considered as a global supplier, providing the same high quality products all around the world.”

The SO.F.TER. U.S. site will be on 21 acres at 3120 Highway 109 N. in Lebanon.

The equipment installed initially will result in about 50 new jobs with ultimate site employment expected to exceed 150.

“I have enjoyed getting to know SO.F.TER management and appreciate their decision to locate in Tennessee,” state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. “SO.F.TER’s investment underscores the momentum our state is enjoying in such a globally competitive market as companies seek the best location for long- term capital investment. We congratulate SO.F.TER on this move and welcome them to Tennessee as a valued corporate citizen for many years to come.”

The debut of SO.F.TER. U.S. on the U.S. plastics market will take place in October with a presentation at the SPE Automotive Conference to be held Oct. 6-9 in Detroit, while the official launch will be held Oct. 16-23 at the K2013 in Düsseldorf, Germany, group management will be available to meet clients and journalists.

The site will employ all U.S.-based management, manufacturing, finance, sales, maintenance, shipping and receiving, customer service, logistics and other positions.

The SO.F.TER. Group is one of the largest independent compounders in the world. The company’s product range includes thermoplastic elastomers, thermoplastic vulcanizates and engineering plastics. SO.F.TER offers its customers innovative, tailor-made solutions with a specialization in the automotive, domestic appliance, construction, footwear and sport sectors.

The SO.F.TER. Group, with a turnover of $330 million in 2012, has its headquarters in Forlì, Italy and counts another three manufacturing plants in Italy, a sales office near Stuttgart, Germany and two commercial and production units in Mexico and Brazil.

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