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3M Looks to Invest $15M in New Plants

A popular model of sponges being prepared for packing at 3M’s existing factory in the city of Volokolamsk.

American conglomerate 3M plans to invest at least $15 million building two local facilities — one for the production of insulation material and the other to make glass bubbles used in the oil and gas industry — the company's Russia chief said Tuesday.

Investment in the facilities — one tentatively in the oil-producing Tyumen region and the other in the automotive industry center Samara — could rise to $30 million, said managing director Reza Vaziri.

The construction is part of 3M's expansion plan through 2015, he said. Thinsulate — a very thin synthetic fiber thermal insulation — is used in clothing, while glass bubbles are additives to cement that fortifies oil and gas wells.

Vaziri said the company is spending an additional $8 million this year mainly on increasing capacity to produce face masks for the chemical and mining industries at its existing domestic plant in Volokolamsk.

Vaziri said 3M — best known for its Post-it Notes and Scotch tape — is reviewing options for a local acquisition. Companies making home and office products are one segment being investigated, he said.

Investment up to now, Vaziri said, amounts to $28 million and includes the construction of the Volokolamsk facility, which went into operation in 2008.

Minnesota-based 3M also plans to set up a lab in Volokolamsk that would test the quality of local raw materials and study ways to modify company products to the Russian market, he said.

Quality issues that prohibit the use of domestic raw materials, such as resins, are one of the biggest challenges in localizing production, Vaziri said.

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