Published On: Mon, Jun 29th, 2009

A. Schulman Inc. to stop making Invision plastic sheeting

For almost a year, A. Schulman Inc. sought a business partner to help develop what the Fairlawn plastics company felt was a promising sheeting product it introduced in 2007.

But Monday, Schulman said it would stop making the product, called Invision, at its Medina County manufacturing plant by the end of this year and eliminate four jobs associated with the material’s production. The partner the company hoped would help it turn Invision into a big industrial winner never appeared.

The product, marketed mainly to the automotive industry as a replacement for metal panels in cars and trucks, sold poorly because of its high cost and a steep decline in auto production. The cost of the largely petroleum-based raw materials used to make Invision also was a factor in the disappointing market performance.

The company “evaluated the market and determined there is significant continued interest from our customer for Invision resin and its wide range of sheet and thermoforming applications,” Joseph Gingo, Schulman’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a written statement. But, he added, “much of Invision’s potential falls outside of A. Schulman’s manufacturing expertise.”

The company will continue to supply the resin but not the sheet product.

Automotive customers included the Mitsubishi Corp. and Chrysler, which used the material, embedded with color, as rigid panels that served as benders and bumpers on Jeeps. Schulman tried to market the plastic through a subsidiary called Invision Inc., but the challenges were too great.

The company said it would record non-cash charges of about $6 million to $8 million for the machinery used to manufacture the material. Schulman expects to save $2 million to $3 million a year by stopping production.

The company makes other plastic products for the automotive industry and for packaging applications.