Chantel McCallum, engagement manager for the Apex group based in Gqeberha, and Willem Reitz, GM of the plant in Neave

Apex Polymer Solutions commissions huge extrusion line

APEX Polymer Solutions celebrated its new identity when it hosted key customers at a launch event in Gqeberha on 5 December, taking the opportunity to introduce its impressive new J-Well corrugated polypropylene extrusion line at the same time.

Apex Polymer Solutions was formerly known as Perspex South Africa and has been one of the leading extruder plastic sheet manufacturers in South Africa for an extended period, the only problem being that the production and sale of Perspex sheet (PMMA or acrylic) comprised an increasingly small portion of its business, of only a single percent of its output.

The company wanted the market to know that it produces a far wider range of sheet products. As a result, it was decided to change the company’s name towards the end of 2023 with the rebranding exercise being completed at the event at the plant in Gqeberha.

Apex Polymer Solutions MD Stuart Hughes said he was glad to be able to celebrate the occasion with customers. The investment in the new extrusion line, at R12 million plus, represented Apex’s determination and ability to rise above the many challenges that have been restraining the manufacturing industry in South Africa he said.

“The last few years have been among the toughest times ever for industry in South Africa. This project is a ray of hope. If people like us give up, what then?” he adds.

Stuart has been involved throughout the Perspex-to-Apex journey. A lawyer, he worked originally at AECI group and was part of the team that led an MBO at Acrylic Products, an AECI sheet manufacturing business in Umbogintwini near Amanzimtoti.

That business was renamed Perspex South Africa in 2003, supplying both sheet it produced as well as imported sheet, the latter mainly being sheet types that were not economical to manufacture locally. In 2010, Perspex SA bought the engineering plastics sheeting business that had been started in PE in 2008. It has over the past 10-plus years steadily built up the company, continued to operate the four extrusion lines used originally, added an additional line, and has now further expanded its output with the commissioning of the sixth line, the J-Well system which was on show in December. Production of acrylic sheet in KZN had ceased.

Recent achievements by Apex include the introduction of Linashield, an extruded polyurethane sheet, which is used in lining applications for conveyor belts and chutes (particularly in mining) where it extends the lifespan of metal components used; and PolyAl sheet made from recovered aluminum and LLDPE used in Tetra Pak boxes (the cardboard is removed in a prior operation).

“We were the first in the world to do this,” said Stuart.

Apex is recognised as the only company globally that has been able to extrude PolyAl successfully.

It also produces HDPE, HIPS, ABS, Polyprop, Layer Board, Twinwall Polyprop, TPO and TPU, making Apex by far the most diversified sheet manufacturer in Southern Africa.

With the plant in Gqeberha being its production hub, Apex also operates distribution centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. It is the leading supplier of sheet to the signage, point of sale, construction, and numerous other sectors.