PHILADELPHIA - Rohm and Haas Automotive Coatings started construction of a new, 46,000-square-foot Technical Research Center in Lansing, MI, with completion scheduled for mid-2003. The facility, to be built at a cost of $12 mil. -15 mil., will be located near the company's existing Automotive Coatings facility, which will remain in operation.

The new facility will house an advanced automotive-coatings trial line designed to demonstrate product technology and expertise on-site for both current and potential customers. The products include finishes for plastic parts for passenger-car, sport-utility vehicle, and light-truck manufacturers. The trial line will include a power-wash station, an applications stage and a thermal finishing unit to simulate typical auto-parts finishing lines.

The Automotive Coatings business manufactures coatings for plastic "add-on" automotive parts such as bumpers, side moldings and spoilers. The business reported sales of approximately $100 million in 2001, and is headquartered at a 20-acre site in Lansing that includes administrative, manufacturing, warehouse and the existing technical-research operations.

Reggie Horne, vice president and Business Unit director for Automotive Coatings, said the research center "signals our continued commitment to providing innovative technology to the automotive industry."

Guests at groundbreaking ceremonies included Mike Fitzpatrick, president and chief operating officer of Rohm and Haas and local county and city officials.