November 2017 Commerce Club-Kuraray

Infrastructure Keeps Kuraray Expanding in Houston

Robert Armstrong

Robert Armstrong, General Manager of Kuraray America’s EVAL™ Business Unit, unfolded a positive story of the skyrocketing growth of plastics to the crowd as he shared the “Kuraray America Growth in the U.S. 2017” presentation at the Port Bureau’s Commerce Club luncheon on November 9. The event was held at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Houston Hobby Airport.

“The viscose fiber, ‘rayon’, was the first Kuraray product in 1926,” Armstrong explained. “Today Kuraray is an integrated chemical manufacturer based in Japan, with operations in Asia, the Americas, and Europe.” Armstrong oversees the extensive EVAL™ brand of Kuraray’s business in America that manufactures plastic resins and film, including a strong “barrier” coated film.

“The barrier film is what’s inside your windshield that keeps it from shattering when one of those little rocks fly into it while you’re driving 225,” said Armstrong humorously. The trademarked EVAL™ derives its name from the chemical compound utilized in its production of ethylene and vinyl alcohol.
Infrastructure and the cost of doing business brought Kuraray to the Houston area in 1986 when the company was part of a joint venture with Northern Petrochemical. Forming a company known as Evalcam they built the EVAL™ plant in Pasadena. Kuraray bought out Evalca in 1992, making the company 100% Kuraray. As of 2017, Kuraray has four manufacturing sites in Houston.

Robert Armstrong, General Manager of Kuraray America’s EVAL™ Business Unit shared Kuraray America’s growth in the U.S. in 2017.

Armstrong named the Houston region’s pipeline logistics as a “critical mass of infrastructure” that plays a significant role in moving their product through the supply chain. The logistics volume has continued to grow, expanding from containers on trucks in 2013 into utilizing rail and barges in 2014. In 2015, maritime movements expanded again to include vessels as well as barges.

As Kuraray’s development of new products continues to grow, so do their expansion plans. The company’s investments in logistics in the area include the AVERA Bayport Logistics Park, scheduled to open in 2018, and an investment in an EVAL™ debottlenecking project of $69 million in 2018. Currently, Kuraray is “actively studying” more expansion in manufacturing. Armstrong again cited the port region’s infrastructure and attractive business picture as a factor in their investment decisions.

Armstrong was the final speaker for the Port Bureau’s Commerce Club luncheon series in 2017.

Our Commerce Club business luncheons are hosted on the second Thursday of each month. Guest speaker for January 2018 is CAPT Kevin Oditt, Commander, Sector Houston-Galveston, USCG. Register at: www.txgulf.org/events/commerce-club  or call us at (713) 678-4300.

  • Date December 15, 2017
  • Tags Dec 2017-Jan 2018