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German company eyes production facility in Clarksburg

by Jim Fisher

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- State and local officials have long decried West Virginia's business and occupation tax structure as unfriendly to business. Maybe they should talk to Christian Martinkat.

"If you're only interested in lining your own pockets, maybe that's so. But we believe that a good company should be part of the community and give back to the community," said Martinkat, interim president of a German company that is planning to build a production facility in Clarksburg.

Stockmeier Urethanes, the U.S. subsidiary of Stockmeier Kunststoffe, produces commercial-grade polyurethane. The company is expected to purchase the shell building at the Harrison County Industrial Park.

Company, state and local officials are expected to make an official announcement Monday. When fully operational, the company is expected to employ up to 25 people.

One of the main reasons the company looked at Clarksburg is to be close to its core market. But company officials also were impressed with the reception they received from state and local officials and the quality of life in North Central West Virginia.

"The package that West Virginia offered, especially in terms of investor services, was simply the best," Martinkat said. "The so-called soft factors are becoming more and more important when deciding where to locate, especially in another country."

Martinkat heads up global business development for Stockmeier Kunststoffe, the firm's parent company. He also will serve as Stockmeier Urethanes temporary president.

The plan is for Martinkat to get the company up and running before a new president is hired. That should happen within a year, he said.

Like plants in Germany and France, the new facility in Clarksburg will produce liquid polyurethane that other companies will use for a variety of applications.

Stockmeier Urethanes produces polyurethane for two main uses: Athletic and safety surfaces, and industrial applications.

Many local residents probably are very familiar with examples of the company's products. While Stockmeier Urethanes was not involved with the new Bridgeport High School track, the rubber adhesive binding the layers together and spray coating are just two ways the company's product can be used.

Stockmeier Urethanes also makes adhesives for artificial turf and varnishes that seal many indoor basketball courts, Martinkat said.

Industrial uses also are varied, he said. Polyurethane can be used in many industries, ranging from electrical and automotive to consumer goods and construction. These applications are known as C.A.S.E., or coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers, Martinkat said.

"What we make can be used in a wide range of products. Almost anywhere you need to glue two products together, and you need an adhesive with specific properties, we make that," he said.

Martinkat noted that Stockmeier Urethanes does not sell polyurethane to consumers and does not make any finished products. All the polyurethane produced is sold commercially and shipped in a liquid form to other companies who make consumer products.

Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com