Local firm joins Korean polymer venture

An Odessa company is teaming with a Korean chemical corporation to take a major initiative in the worldwide hot melt adhesive industry, supplying companies that make hygiene products, heating, ventilation and air conditioning filters, automotive interiors and other products.

A spokeswoman for REXtac LLC said Tuesday that the firm is partnering with DL Chemical of Seoul to build and operate a $134-million amorphous poly alpha olefin (APAO) plant at Yeosu in the South Jeolla Province of South Korea.

Based at 2501 S. Grandview Ave., REXtac was founded in 2009 by an acquisition from Flint Hills Resources and Huntsman Chemical and its president, Nick Fowler, said the company “is excited to partner with a world class, experienced petrochemical company like DL Chemical.

“This joint venture manufacturing capability will provide global service, supply and delivery security to our ever-expanding customer base and free REXtac from total dependency on North American propylene prices,” Fowler said in a news release.

The groundbreaking is scheduled this year for commercial operations to start in 2023.

Fowler told the Odessa American Tuesday afternoon that he has 150 employees here, the project will increase his Odessa staff by five and he will hire 80 Koreans in Yeosu. “We’ll also send people from the U.S. to Korea over the next three years,” he said.

Fowler said REXtac’s annual revenues are about $65 million.

Odessa Chamber of Commerce Director of Economic Development Wesley Burnett said the Odessa Development Corp. is not involved in financing the project, but he is nonetheless glad to see it because it will help a local company. “They have been talking about this for quite some time and I’m sure it will expand REXtac and make it stronger,” Burnett said.

“It wasn’t a snap decision. A lot of planning went into it. REXtac is a successful company and a great asset to Odessa.”

REXtac Director of Sales and Marketing Elizabeth Aldrich of Dallas said the environmentally focused plant will have an annual capacity of 88 million pounds “to actively expand into the hot melt polymer and adhesive market, which is valued close to $10.4 billion.

“This partnership will combine DL Chemical’s research and development capabilities with REXtac’s state-of-the-art APAO manufacturing technology and research and development,” Aldrich said.

DL Chemical is a specialized petrochemical company that entered the industry in 1979 and has since helped shape the Korean petrochemical industry through development, continuous investment and collaboration with global companies, becoming the first company to develop and commercialize high quality metallocene polyethylene in Korea and to manufacture polybutene and synthetic oil, its website said.

REXtac is a world leader in manufacturing APAO through a proprietary catalyst and liquid pool production process, Aldrich said, adding, “This method provides the broadest range of performance properties in a polymer.

“Through innovation and creativity, REXtac’s research and development lab has created a unique line of APAOs to satisfy some of the most challenging adhesive applications. Together, DL Chemical and REXtac LLC look forward to a prosperous partnership in the global hot melt adhesive industry.”