Publisher Donna Campbell and I recently attended the grand opening of BYK USA’s expanded facility in Wallingford, CT. The 56,000-sq-ft, three-story office and production facility will more than double manufacturing capacity. The expansion project represents a $50 million investment from ALTANA (BYK USA’s parent company), the largest single investment the Group has made outside of Germany. In addition to increasing production, the facility increases worldwide supply chain security for BYK’s additives.

Prior to the completion of the new facility, roughly 50% of the company’s products were shipped from overseas. The new plant will allow BYK to be more flexible and not have to deal with shipping issues.

“By being able to manufacture the products in the U.S., we save ourselves a lot of time when it comes to freight issues. If a customer needs a specific product or is ramping up a new product line, we can react quicker. We don’t have to wait 8-12 weeks. It also reduces our inventory holding costs, so it gives us a lot of flexibility,” said Dirk Plas, President, BYK USA.

Edward Ogle, Senior Manager of Manufacturing, led our tour of the new facility, which features 18 new bulk raw material tanks that can each hold 12,300 gallons of raw materials; a quality control lab, where each raw material is tested before being used; a control room, which includes a four-operator station that has access to all of the formulas and equipment in the facility; a three-story, 60-foot-tall production area; and a two-story, 30-foot-tall support area.

Here are a few mind-boggling numbers that relate to the construction of this facility: 2,530 cubic yards of concrete was poured – enough to make a sidewalk 10.4 miles long; 648 tons of steel was used; 26,400 feet of stainless steel process piping was installed, 66,000 feet of power cable and 142,000 feet of instrumentation cable were run throughout the building; and 269 pieces of process equipment and 1,680 process instruments were installed.

BYK USA has worked closely with the city of Wallingford and with the state of Connecticut on this project. Last year, the state provided the company with a $6 million loan at a very low interest rate to help fund the new facility, with the incentive that $4 million would be forgiven if the company retained its 97 employees and added 37 new positions within three years. BYK has been hiring and training local engineers, chemists and operators for this facility, and has already added almost 20 new people, with plans to hire approximately 35 more.

 The facility, which took 18 months to complete, was scheduled to begin production in July.