Market Topics



Wal-Mart Gear Oil Earns Heavy Fine

District attorneys for five California counties have reached a $357,800 settlement in a civil suit filed against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Warren Distribution Inc., saying Wal-Marts SuperTech brand gear oils sold there failed to meet advertised viscosity levels. The consumer protection suit grew out of inspections of SAE 85W-140 and 75W-140 SuperTech gear oils by officials with the Shasta County Weights and Measures Petroleum Division.

The offending gear oils were made by Omaha, Neb.-based Warren Distribution and sold by Wal-Mart in California from 2004 to 2006. About 5,000 bottles of gear oils for heavy machinery and large trucks were involved, the suit charged. Without admitting any wrongdoing, the two companies agreed to pay $257,800 in civil penalties, $75,000 to reimburse the investigation and prosecution costs, and $25,000 in restitution. The civil penalties will be divided equally among Shasta, Monterey, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

The problem was with a few of the bottles that were shipped, not the entire amount, Warren Distribution CEO Robert Schlott said. It was discovered that there were certain batches over a long period of time that were not compliant on a cold-temperature test for the gear oils. The situation arose with gear oils manufactured in the 2004-2006 time frame, he said, and was rectified shortly after the company discovered the problem. A review of batch codes showed that the off-spec oils went only to the five counties named, he added.

Packaging Uptick Forecast

World demand for packaging machinery is forecast to grow 5.2 percent a year and reach almost $40 billion by 2012. Rising economic output and improved standards of living will spur equipment sales, thanks to increased consumer spending, manufacturing activity and demand for packaging equipment, says a new study from the Cleveland-based Freedonia Group.

According to World Packaging Machinery, sales growth in developing parts of the world will outpace that of the United States, Europe and Japan. Meanwhile, new manufacturing capacity is being added in industrialized nations, and in 2012 these three regions will continue to account for over two-thirds of the worlds packaging machinery production.

Among the other trends highlighted in the report:

China will register the largest gains of any national market, in value terms, and packaging equipment demand there will grow by more than $3.3 billion from 2007 to 2012. In the study period, China will become the worlds largest packaging machinery market.

Healthy increases are forecast for Russia, India, Mexico and for lower-volume markets of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

Developed parts of the world will see some growth, albeit sluggish in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Japan.

By equipment type, the fastest-growing segment will be labeling and coding machinery. Filling and form/fill/seal equipment will remain the most widely used type of packaging machinery. And demand for wrapping, bundling and palletizing equipment will climb at a slightly above-average pace.

World Packaging Machinery (408 pages) is available now for $5,700. Web: www.freedonia

Valvoline Rolls with Goodyear

Goodyear last month began offering Valvoline motor oils and other automotive lubricants at its nearly 700 company-owned stores nationwide. Under the agreement, Valvoline will become the default brand for motor oil changes, ATF, greases and products such as brake and hydraulic fluids used at company-owned Goodyear Auto Service Centers and Just Tire stores. While the tire chain already was offering Valvolines Zerex antifreeze, Castrol had been its previous motor oil brand, a Goodyear spokesman confirmed.

Lexington, Ky.-based Valvoline, part of Ashland, operates the chain of Valvoline Instant Oil Change quick-lubes stores, but also has made strides in securing retailers beyond its self-named outlets. Sears Auto Centers and Monro Muffler Brake and Service stores also feature the brand.

Puralube Opens 2nd Rerefinery

On Dec. 10, Puralube inaugurated its second rerefinery at the Industriepark Zeitz, in Troeglitz, Germany, following a construction period of only 15 months. The new rerefinery is sister to Puralubes first, also in Zeitz, which opened in 2004 using the HyLube process to rerefine used oil. Together, the two rerefineries can produce up to 140,000 tons a year of products, including 100,000 t/y (2,000 barrels per day) of API Group II-quality base oils. The plant represents an investment of nearly 45 million, and created 45 new jobs. In total, Puralube now employs 100 people at the location.

Chemtura Goes Lean

Chemtura Corp. has realigned itself again, flattening to just two business groups: Engineered Products and Performance Products. The latter includes its petroleum additives, lubricants and greases, and is headed by executive vice president David Dickey. Robert Wedinger, former head of petroleum additives, was named executive vice president for strategic initiatives.

This is the third major reorganization since Chemtura was formed in the 2005 merger of Crompton and Great Lakes Chemical. President, Chairman and CEO Craig A. Rogerson, who took the reins in December, said this latest revamp will allow petroleum additives to pursue best-available business options. Among other actions, the company is exploring the sale of a business or part of a business, and also has been cutting production to match falling demand, pruning inventories, and trimming its workforce by about 10 percent.

Chemtura makes lube additives including phenolic and aminic antioxidants, sulfonates, phosphate esters and PAO. It also makes greases, and owns specialty lube companies Anderol and Hatco.

Call for Papers

Authors are invited to submit technical papers for the prestigious International Colloquium Tribology, coming Jan. 19 to 21, 2010, to the Technische Akademie Esslingen near Stuttgart, Germany. This prestigious event, chaired every two years by Prof. Wilfried Bartz, draws more than a thousand experts from around the world. Theme of the upcoming gathering is Solving Friction and Wear Problems, and suggested topics include additive mechanisms, tribology, fill-for-life lubrication, mineral oils and synthetic fluids, engine oils, solid lubricants, gear, compressor and refrigeration lubes, health and environmental issues, industrial applications, bearing lubrication, and more. Speakers need to submit an abstract of approximately 250 words not later than April 1. Contact andrea.zeh@ for details. Web:

Lubrizol Cuts 170 Jobs

Facing what it calls macroeconomic head-winds, additive giant Lubrizol took steps last month to reduce its work force by approximately 170 people. The job cuts affect less than 2.5 percent of its total employment worldwide, and are said to fall upon all business units. The majority of the affected employees, approximately 130, are located in the United States, mainly at our Wickliffe and Brecksville, Ohio, sites, a company spokeswoman related last month. Severance packages and professional outplacement services are said to be among the assistance offered to those leaving the company.

EPA Frowns on Antimicrobial

Behnke Lubricants will pay a $55,055 penalty to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for making antimicrobial claims for its Jax brand food-grade lubes in violation of federal pesticide regulations. On Dec. 30, an administrative judge in Chicago ruled that the company cannot claim that some of its food-grade lubes are effective against microbes, because the products themselves are not registered as pesticides with EPA. EPA registers all pesticidal products, including disinfectants, antimicrobials and antibacterial products.

We took the thing to court to try to get a decision one way or the other based on our viewpoint of how the regulations handle these types of lubricants, Behnke president Eric Peter told Lube Report. Basically, we got in trouble because wed done our testing on E.coli, listeria and salmonella, and we said it was effective against those; they said you cant do that unless we [EPA] have our say-so on it.

The ruling did not address the safety of the products, he said, only their failure to comply with EPAs rules. All Jax FG-H1 lubricants have been, are and will remain in compliance with the ingredient and formulation standards of the FDA and USDA [Food Safety and Inspection Service], Peter said.

Faces in the News

Jiffy Lube International named John Sanfacon as manager of its newly created marketing and innovations group. He will be responsible for all aspects of Jiffy Lube brand management and retail marketing, as well as product and service innovations. With more than 20 years experience, Sanfacon most recently was marketing vice president at Dennys Inc., where he helped reinvigorate the brand and worked closely with franchisees.

Greg Miiller has been promoted to general manager of Tannas Co. and King Refrigeration, two lubricant test instrument companies within the Midland, Mich.-based Savant Group. Miiller, an 18-year veteran of the company who most recently served as Tannass technical director, will coordinate operations for the two business units. Savant also promoted Marc Hildebrandt, who had been R&D director for King, to the newly created position of production and services manager for both Tannas and King. He joined King in 1996.

Promotions at Lintech International, Macon, Ga., include Dennis C. Gillespie as president, and Julie Hinson Van Brunt as executive vice president. Both have been with the chemical distribution company for over 24 years. Tom Hinson remains as managing partner, with a focus on strategic initiatives.

Briefly Noted

In its 4Q earnings report, Ciba said its sales dropped sharply in many consumer industries, notably automotive plastics and coatings. By contrast, its lubricant additives experienced strong growth throughout the year, with increased sales to global additive-packaging houses and oil companies. Cibas acquisition by BASF is due to close before the quarter ends, pending regulatory approvals…

ExxonMobil Lubricants in late January lifted U.S. sales allocations for all automotive synthetic products, including best-selling synthetic engine oil Mobil 1. Many of its industrial synthetic lubricants and greases also saw allocations eased or lifted on Feb. 1…

Heartland Automotive Services Inc., the worlds largest Jiffy Lube franchisee, on Feb. 9 announced it had emerged rapidly from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Omaha, Neb., based company operates nearly 400 service centers in 15 major markets, servicing around 4.5 million vehicles a year…

Brookfield Engineering of Middleboro, Mass., has acquired RheoTec Messtechnik, a leading German manufacturer of rheology instruments. The two have partnered for more than 10 years in the sale of R/S rheometers, which are made by RheoTec and marketed via Brookfields international dealer network. Like its new parent, RheoTec also makes viscometers.

Related Topics

Market Topics