FLA. PAINT FIRM TO HELP CHINA AGENT WITH PLANT

FLA. PAINT FIRM TO HELP CHINA AGENT WITH PLANT

After exporting paints to China for about a year, FLR Paints Inc. has agreed to help a Chinese distributor set up a manufacturing plant there.

The agreement calls for Bradenton's FLR to install its paint manufacturing machines at Sheen Long International Ltd.'s facility in Shenzhen near Hong Kong.Although FLR will have no ownership stake in the facility because the Chinese firm is buying its equipment, Sheen Long will pay FLR royalties for its production and sales - thereby increasing its market share in China. ''Production can begin in May," said Dan Caruso, general manager for FLR. FLR will also provide people to train Sheen Long employees.

FLR's paints are primarily used on concrete surfaces. Demand for construction-related concrete and painting products is expected to rise as China's economy grows, said Charles Sturtebant, an export agent who helped arrange the deal.

Sheen Long began distributing FLR paints about a year ago. When the new equipment is in place, the Shenzhen facility will have an annual production capacity of 1.25 million gallons, the same as the Bradenton plant.

Zufeng Pan, president and general manager of Sheen Long, said even when the facility is equipped, orders will outstrip capacity. He said customers have already ordered 200,000 gallons of paint and orders for an additional 300,000 gallons are possible.

Sheen Long is investing about $8 million to buy the equipment, technology and set up the facility, Mr. Pan said. Chinese perceive American paint products to be superior to domestic products or imports from Japan or Europe, Mr. Pan said. "I think they (American paints) have a big potential in the Chinese market."

Founded in 1929, FLR has about $8 million in sales annually. Less than 10 percent of its products are sold overseas.