Timber takes on toys

Injection molder Rolco Inc. (Kasota, MN; www.rolcogames.com) is processing a wood fiber/plastic composite (WPC) supplied by JER Envirotech International Corp. (Vancouver, BC; www.jerenvirotech.com) for a new line of specialty game pieces launched earlier this month (February 17-20) at the International Toy Fair in New York City. The WPCs used for these game pieces contain up to 50% recycled wood byproduct.

Vern Olson, Rolco’s founder and director of research and development, said, “We had been testing wood-plastic composites for a number of years with limited success. Then, in 2006 we began exploring the use of JER’s proprietary formulations and we were able to achieve excellent results.” Rolco’s efforts include testing with colorants as well as multi-shot molding.

Rolco runs 32 injection molding machines, nine of them fitted for multi-shot processing. It is one of the few North American molders still serving the toys/gaming market; most of that industry’s plastics processing left long ago for foreign (primarily Asian) shores. Looking beyond the environmental aspects of processing materials with a high recyclate content, JER Envirotech says its compounds are helping the molder cut his material’s budget (save on plastics) and can also be molded at lower temperatures, which can result in energy savings of up to 30%.

Rolco is not the only toymaker that has chosen JER Envirotech’s compounds for its products. Toymaker Sprig Toys (Fort Collins, CO) named the compounder its exclusive supplier for Sprigwood, a specially developed WPC from JER, which Sprig will use in its new line of children’s vehicles. Under the terms of the four-year supply agreement, JER becomes the exclusive supplier of these compounds to Sprig Toys in exchange for exclusivity in certain market segments and ongoing access to JER’s formulation expertise. JER will also provide preferential pricing tied to pre-determined volume commitments, starting with a minimum of 400,000 pounds of JER’s compounds in 2008. As the exclusive raw material supplier, Sprig Toys also agreed to provide JER with secondary recognition and branding on its products and packaging.

The new Sprig Adventure Series toys also were introduced at the toy show in New York, with the new toy to be sold through mass and specialty toy stores in North America and Europe by fall 2008.

JER utilizes wood fiber or other natural fibers in its compounds, made at facilities in Canada, Malaysia and the Philippines. Last summer it announced a series of executive appointments, including a new chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), chief technology officer (CTO), VP of global sales and marketing, and a VP of manufacturing, joining Edward Trueman, who was named JER president and CEO in December 2006. Ji Yoon, formerly of Taiga Building Products, is now the CFO; Peter Baran became COO, leaving CGI Information Systems and Management; Peter Kelly is CTO, with prior experience including a senior research role at DuPont Canada; William Hunnicutt left AlphaGary to become VP global sales and marketing; and William Anderson took on the VP manufacturing post, coming from Ry-Coll Industries.

Begun in 1997, JER worked with the National Research Council of Canada and the Industrial Materials Institute to develop WPC compounds. For more on JER see the article in our magazine (October 2007, page 72) or click here.

Comments (0)

Please log in or to post comments.
  • Oldest First
  • Newest First
Loading Comments...