BauschLinnemann moves in to Myrtle Beach home

sjones@thesunnews.comOctober 6, 2013 

— People at BauschLinnemann’s grand opening/anniversary celebration Monday will no doubt be able to envision the machines around them whirring and humming as they churn out paper laminates for the wood products industry.

While that would be an obvious observation in the spotlessly-clean two-story production area of the company’s new North American headquarters, those with keen eyes will see it for what it really is: a sandbox.

“This is the way it should be done,” Don Calhoun, senior vice president of manufacturing, said of the daily work routine.

“We have fun,” said Bernhard Dupmeier, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

CEO Mike Phillips understands the analogy of him and his team as kids playing in a sandbox.

His eyes sparkle as he leads visitors on a tour of the building, and moves effortlessly through stories about how he designed a hot melt glue machine on the back of a cocktail napkin, or how the machine that melts the glue pellets for it was modeled after a deep fat fryer.

Phillips said he’ll probably spend a lot of time leaning on a rail of the interior metal landing outside his second-floor office, just watching things work on the production floor below. Inevitably, he’ll think of a tweak that can be done to improve the process over here or a change that will make things over there more efficient.

He’ll suggest the changes to his line personnel, who when they get tired of his messing around are free to say, “Don’t you have a trip to take?”

He thinks of them as co-workers, not employees.

“I want them to be real relaxed when they work because nobody performs well if they’re under pressure all the time,” he said.

When it’s time to formulate the annual budget, Phillips, Dupmeier and Calhoun separately figure what they think the company’s sales will be in the upcoming year as well as a full budget amount. If the three estimates are fairly close to each other, Phillips said he thinks they are probably good figures.

“No day is like the other,” Dupmeier said of his work. “Every day has its challenges.”

As loose as he seems, Phillips knows well that he can do things his way because he has run a profitable operation for 25 years. When he first began with Linnemann in 1988, the company had about $3 million in annual sales. Since then, the family-owned company has merged with publicly-traded Bausch and expects $25 million in sales this year.

Since 2010, the company has acquired Coastal Paper in Myrtle Beach and Montreal-based CDM, and the equipment it got in the purchases gives BauschLinnemann the capacity to produce 100 percent of North American needs for paper laminates, if other manufacturers shut down.

“It’ll take years for the market to catch up with what we’re doing,” Phillips said.

The location of BauschLinnemann near the main entrance to Myrtle Beach International Airport makes it a high-profile corporate resident, a status Phillips said it did not have in Greensboro, N.C., where it was headquartered before it move to the Grand Strand.

It is the one of three corporate headquarters relocations that have been announced for Horry County in the last year and the first to go into production locally.

PTR Industries, a Connecticut gun manufacturer, is upfitting its new headquarters at the Cool Springs Industrial Park and aerospace components manufacturer Elm Street Associates has announced it will build a 45,000-square-foot plant in Horry County.

“I think it draws more attention to Horry County and the Myrtle Beach area,” Fred Richardson, board chairman of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., said of BauschLinnemann’s new location.

He said that he believes that because BauschLinnemann moved here, other manufacturers will look at the area for relocation or a new facility.

When it’s fully-stocked, BauschLinnemann will have the capacity to produce 1 billion square feet of coated laminates each year which then it will size down into hot melt glue product and edge banding. It is also the North American distribution for another line of paper laminates the parent corporation manufactures in Germany.

The Myrtle Beach operation will be able to produce 900 million square feet of the hot melt glue product, which is a laminate material that may be used on products such as the interior of kitchen cabinets. Phillips said the company produces about 40 percent of the North American market for solid color rolled laminates and nearly 100 percent of that for paper-based edging.

Phillips said it will take up to a year to completely relocate all the company’s Greensboro operations to its new plant, and once that’s done, he expects to have 50 full-time employees.

He’s impressed with the Southern hospitality he and his wife have found on the Grand Strand, and he’s sold on the work ethic of local residents.

“What I see here is a different attitude with the workers,” he said. “I had to beg people to work over time in Greensboro, and here, they’ll work as long as I’ll let them.”

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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