Because of what it calls a "widespread shortage of propylene," Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Propex Operating Company, LLC will be raising prices across all four of its global business units — Flooring Solutions, Geosynthetics, Concrete Solutions and Performance Technologies. Many of the firm's products, including geotextiles, erosion control mats, concrete fibers and building materials, are used in government construction and grounds maintenance projects.

In a statement, the company said several North American polypropylene suppliers had declared force majeure, meaning they were not honoring their supply contracts because of unanticipated or uncontrollable events.

Propex said the amount of the price increase will range from 12 to 20 percent, and it would vary by business unit and location. "With resin prices increasing over 95 percent since January of 2009, the increase is necessary," the company said in a statement.

"While this present situation commenced in North America, it has global implications throughout the supply chain," said Ralph Bruno, Propex's executive vice president of global sales and marketing. "In reaction to this widespread shortage of propylene, we have mobilized our global reach and market leadership to ensure ample supply to meet all of our customer demands and strategic growth initiatives."

On Feb. 10, the company's Furnishing Solutions Business announced a 9 percent price increase for all products sold into the North American carpet, automotive, turf, furniture and bedding industries, effective Feb. 24, 2010. The increase is in addition to a 6 percent increase announced on Feb. 1, 2010. The price increases are permanent, according to Sandy Stewart, Propex's marketing manager.

The company said the Feb. 10 increases are "primarily driven by the continued, upward trend in key raw materials, notably polypropylene resin. Over the past 12 months, the cost of polypropylene resin has increased 95 percent."

Some of the company's products that have government applications include:

  • Geotex woven geotextiles that are used in a variety of stabilization, separation, filtration, erosion protection and waste containment applications,
  • Geotex nonwoven fabrics engineered for drainage, separation and cushioning applications,
  • Geotex Soil Reinforcement Geotextiles, which provide structural soil reinforcement for a range of civil and environmental applications,
  • Pyramat high performance turf reinforcement mats,
  • Landlok turf reinforcement mats, and
  • Petromat and Petrotac paving products that are used in highways, city streets, parking areas, airport pavements and bridge deck applications.

The company started as Patchouge Mills, a producer of lace curtains, tablecloths and handkerchiefs, and grew into a global supplier of polypropylene fabrics and fibers in the geosynthetics, concrete, furnishings and industrial markets.