Mergers and acquisitions in plastics led by two big Swiss deals
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Mergers and acquisitions in plastics led by two big Swiss deals

Jun 18, 2024

Redline Plastics LLC — a finalist for PN’s 2022 Processor of the Year — also made headlines when it purchased Quality Holdings LLC

Two Swiss firms announced big money deals in pipe and in roofing systems, setting the pace for plastics M&A deals in the first half of 2023.

Schaffhausen-based Georg Fischer Ltd. said it will pay almost $2.3 billion for plastic pipe extruder Uponor Oyj of Finland. Fischer outbid Brussels-based Aliaxis SA to secure Uponor, although the deal isn't finalized yet. All three firms have significant North American pipe operations.

Uponor board member Hans Sohlström said: "We recognize that a combination with GF would provide strength for the future development of the combined company. … It is in the best interest of Uponor's shareholders."

Georg Fischer Piping Systems has estimated North American plastic pipe extrusion sales of $230 million, according to Plastics News data. The Irvine, Calif.-based unit of Georg Fischer AG has eight North American factories. Uponor Inc., the Apple Valley, Minn.-based unit of Uponor Oyj, has estimated North American pipe sales of $490 million. It has two North American plants.

The other megadeal announced in the first half of 2023 also has a building and construction angle. Holcim, a Swiss firm that ranks as the world's biggest cement maker, will pay $1.3 billion for Saginaw, Mich.-based Duro-Last Inc., a producer of single-ply roofing systems that has seen double-digit growth.

Duro-Last was founded in 1976 as Tri-City Vinyl, a maker of pool liners. Two years later, owner John Burt found a new application: commercial roofing systems. He grew the business with product innovations like factory-welded seams to reduce the potential for leaks.

Duro-Last has sales of about $540 million. Officials said Duro-Last's systems will complement Holcim's integrated roofing products and are expected to create synergies of $60 million per year.

Redline Plastics LLC — a finalist for PN's 2022 Processor of the Year — also made headlines when it purchased Quality Holdings LLC, a rotomolder and compression molder in Hartwell, Ga. Redline is based in Manitowoc, Wis.

"The main reason for the deal was to expand our rotomolding footprint throughout the United States and gain access to different regions," Redline President Nick Murray said. Quality has a 144,000-square-foot facility in Hartwell with 60 employees. That factory will remain open under the Redline name.

Healthy transaction prices were reported in several other first-half deals. Amcor plc sold off its Russian operations in a move prompted by that country's invasion of Ukraine. Amcor received $392 million from Russian investor HS Investments for the three plants.

"This follows Amcor's previously announced decision to pursue the orderly sale of its Russian business while continuing to support its people and customers as well as preserving value for shareholders," the company said in announcing the sale.

Amcor's former businesses make flexible packaging and cartons at a site in St. Petersburg and two sites in Novgorod. About 900 people work at the three sites, which accounted for about 2 percent of Amcor's sales in fiscal year 2022.

Amcor, a $15 billion global plastics firm, had operated in Russia for more than 20 years. The company previously limited production at the three sites in Russia by suspending new projects and investments in that country. The company discontinued exports from Russia and said it was going to focus on existing multinational customers.

Brussels-based Aliaxis SA — prior to missing out on Uponor — paid $250 million for the manufacturing division of Valencia, Calif.-based Valencia Pipe Co. to expand into the Western U.S. Aliaxis already owns Pineville, N.C.-based pipe extruder Ipex USA LLC and has been increasing its U.S. presence and product line through acquisition in recent years.

Auto supplier ABC Technologies Holdings Inc. added more expertise in injection molding and tooling with its acquisition of Windsor Mold Group Technologies for $165 million.

WMGT, based in Windsor, Ontario, is a Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier to the auto industry and a maker of complex tooling for injection molded exterior and interior parts, lighting molds and optic inserts. It saw $270 million in sales for its fiscal year that ended April 30.

WMGT has operations in Windsor; Amherstburg, Ontario; Saline, Mich.; Bellevue, Ohio; Pulaski, Tenn.; Pharr, Texas; and Querétaro, Mexico. The acquisition is the third of 2022 for Toronto-based ABC Technologies and adds to its capabilities as a vertically integrated supplier.

Pfizer Inc. acquired Emeryville, Calif.-based Lucira Health Inc. for $36.4 million after the COVID-19 test manufacturer filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in February.

"Pfizer has agreed to acquire the majority of Lucira's assets, including IP and trademarks, licenses, equipment and inventory and assume certain contracts," a spokesperson for Pfizer told PN.

The pharmaceutical and biomedical company paid $5 million in cash, "plus the cost to cure payment defaults under certain assumed contracts representing around $31.4 million of additional value to Lucira's bankruptcy estate," the statement said.

Several frequent buyers continued their acquisitive ways in the first half. TriMas Corp. wrapped up a deal to buy Aarts Packaging BV, an injection molder in Waalwijk, Netherlands. It's the seventh deal since early 2019 for TriMas, a publicly traded company based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., that serves consumer, aerospace and industrial markets.

Aarts' product line includes caps and closures for high-end cosmetics and fragrances; scoops, jars and capsules for food-related products; and pharmaceutical dosing containers and jars.

The Dutch company was privately owned and had sales of about $25 million in 2022. Aarts becomes part of TriMas Packaging, which includes recent acquisitions Intertech Plastics LLC of Denver and Omega Plastics Inc. in Clinton Township, Mich.

PPC Flexible Packaging LLC expanded internationally through the purchase of StePac L.A. Ltd. of Tefen, Israel. "StePac has been a recognized technology leader in the boutique produce market for many years. Through combining PPC's existing portfolio of produce packaging, this acquisition will bring our mutual customers a much more diverse selection of options," PPC CEO Kevin Keneally said in a statement.

StePac started operations in 1992, initially as a nylon film extruder serving the medical and health care markets. The company later moved to the fresh produce market and has become a "globally recognized leader in post-harvest shelf life extension," PPC said. The company makes roll goods, lidding, pre-made bags and pouches for both bulk and retail applications.

StePac becomes PPC's 14th manufacturing location and its second outside of the U.S., joining a plant in Colombia.

Ever-acquisitive SyBridge Technologies LP added mold maker Cavaform International LLC of St. Petersburg, Fla. Cavaform is SyBridge's 15th acquisition since it was launched in 2019 by New York private equity firm Crestview Partners.

SyBridge has been collecting companies across end markets, including several mold and toolmakers, and it is one of numerous private equity-backed firms that appear to be working toward vertical integration via acquisitions.

Cavaform will add to SyBridge's presence in the high-precision life sciences market. Cavaform subsidiary Modern Technical Molding & Development is an injection mold testing and production facility, also in St. Petersburg. MTMD serves the life sciences, medical disposables, IV catheter tipping tool industries and personal care markets.

Plastics sheet leader Plaskolite LLC acquired an acrylic sheet plant in Matamoros, Mexico, from materials firm Trinseo. It's the 22nd acquisition in 16 years for Columbus, Ohio-based Plaskolite. No purchase price was disclosed.

The deal includes almost 11 acres as well as buildings and equipment. The plant specializes in production of cell cast acrylic sheet for display, signage, construction, marine and sanitary products.

Officials with Plaskolite said the plant complements Plaskolite's existing cell cast operations in Girona, Spain. Plaskolite will offer its cell cast acrylic sheet as Optix-brand cell cast sheet. Product shipments from the Matamoros plant are expected to begin in the second half of 2023.

The deal is the first for Plaskolite since June 2022, when it acquired plastics processor MXL Industries. MXL is a mold maker, injection molder and coatings maker based in Lancaster, Pa.

In the mold making sector, Persico SpA acquired Precision Mold Services Inc. of Blaine, Minn., and will relocate some of its Michigan operations and employees to Blaine.

Precision Mold Services, founded in 1999, is being renamed Persico Rotomolding USA Inc. The company repairs molds for rotational molding and does computer numerically controlled mold manufacturing.

Persico said it will keep its automotive-related operations in Rochester Hills and Shelby Township, Mich. Persico Automotive manufactures molds, tools and equipment for making interior and exterior parts for cars and industrial vehicles.

Nembro, Italy-based parent Persico SpA makes the Leonardo and Smart automated rotomolding machines. It created Persico USA in 2013 when it acquired Autoplas Systems Ltd. of Rochester Hills.

A number of unique M&A deals also took place in the first half. In one such deal, a Wisconsin PET packaging thermoformer once slated to close received new life.

Portage Plastics Corp. had been under a court-ordered receivership in 2022 due to financial difficulties and previously told Wisconsin labor officials the site was going to shut down. Fellow thermoformer Lacerta Group LLC was able to buy the assets of Portage to save the facility from closing and, in the process, keep most of the jobs.

Lacerta, owned by private equity firm SK Capital Partners, operates four thermoforming facilities in its headquarters of Mansfield, Mass., and one in Chatsworth, Calif.

After five generations of family ownership, Fredman Bag Co., a maker of flexible packaging based in Milwaukee, is being sold to Summit Plastics Inc. The move further expands Summit's product offerings and geographic presence.

Summit, based in Summit, Miss., and owned by LongueVue Capital, has now made three deals since the private equity firm purchased the company in 2020.

The Fredman family previously said there was no clear successor to run the company for a sixth generation. The firm operates out of a 50,000-square-foot location with both printing and converting capabilities.

The sweetest deal of the first half took place when Shore Capital Partners LLC of Chicago partnered with Container Services Inc., a Hillsboro, Kan., stretch and extrusion blow molder that makes, among other things, iconic, bear-shaped bottles for honey.

CSI is based in Hillsboro and has a second plant in Newcastle, Pa. The company employs more than 100 and has more than 150,000 square feet of manufacturing space. With 16 molding machines between the two plants, CSI makes PET and high density polyethylene bottles and can use post-consumer resins.

The company, with customers in the household products, automotive, and food and beverage industries, also creates molds and 3D printed bottle prototypes. Shore Capital said it will be investing in CSI's operational infrastructure, business development, and sales and marketing.

West Des Moines, Iowa-based injection molder Engineered Plastic Components Inc. acquired the assets of another injection molder, Ernie Green Industries, including plants in Ohio, Florida and Ontario.

"We are very excited about this transaction," EPC President and CEO Reza Kargarzadeh said. "It will increase our footprint and ability to service all of our customers better." The plants will add $86 million to EPC's annual sales and add 500 employees.

The deal also includes more than 80 molding machines, ranging in size from 50-2,200 tons. The acquired Ernie Green plants are located in Circleville, Ohio; Ormond Beach, Fla.; and Stratford, Ontario. Those were the company's remaining operations. Last year, EGI closed its New Madison, Ohio, plant and also sold its medical device and diagnostics division, EG Medical, to Dunes Point Capital LP. That business is now called Atalys.

EGI founder Ernie Green played in the National Football League for seven years in the 1960s as a running back with the Cleveland Browns. Green played on Cleveland's 1964 championship team — the franchise's most recent title — and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1966 and 1967.

Clayens Group acquired injection molder Parkway Products LLC in a move that gives the new owner a larger platform to continue growth. The deal includes eight locations in the U.S. and one in Mexico serving industrial, infrastructure, agriculture, aerospace, defense, transportation and health care markets.

Greenville, S.C.-based Parkway makes precision plastic and metal components through what the company describes as five niche process technologies: thermoplastic molding, thermoset molding, machining, high-performance polymer molding and magnesium thixomolding.

"I think it's all about the customers and our people. And I think it's good for both. I think that's the primary message. Our combined capabilities are better given the ability for us to now share and leverage advanced technologies. And we'll have more geographic reach to serve people where they want to be served," Parkway CEO Andrew Green said in an April 12 interview with PN.

Private equity firm One Equity Partners owns Clayens Group and is buying Parkway Products from fellow private equity firm Heartwood Partners. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Nashotah, Wis.-based automotive injection molder Techniplas LLC made its second acquisition since exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-2020. This time, the firm acquired Proper Group's Anderson, S.C., manufacturing operations. The 86,000-square-foot plant, which molds and assembles automotive exterior, consumer and industrial components, employs 120.

Warren, Mich.-based Proper cited liquidity issues when it announced in late 2022 that it would close its headquarters plant. A few weeks later, it sold its auto lighting operation in Pulaski, Tenn., to Luxit Group, a unit of Florida-based investment firm New Water Capital LP.

Private equity firm Atlas Holdings LLC bought Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automotive supplier U.S. Farathane LLC from the Gores Group investment firm. U.S. Farathane is one of North America's largest automotive injection molders and was the 2005 PN Processor of the Year.

Atlas plans to partner with USF CEO Andy Greenlee, who will remain CEO and assume the title of chairman of the board. Greenlee said Atlas' automotive sector expertise will help USF grow. Atlas owns 26 companies, including three in the auto sector: automotive glass supplier Carlex, battery maker Edison Group Cos., and headliner and interior trim maker Motus.

Market veteran Christopher Miedza acquired injection molder Innovations in Plastic Inc. and renamed the business Pharoplast LLC. Miedza has 30 years of industry experience.

Innovations of East Cleveland, Ohio, was founded in 1972 by Charles Hazle, who sold the business to Miedza in August 2022 and continues to work with the firm as a consultant. Hazle started the business with one injection molding machine, which he had bought at an auction, in a rented building.

The business primarily does contract manufacturing for OEMs. The firm also offers assembly, sonic welding, pad printing, hot stamping and machining services. Pharoplast occupies 25,000 square feet of a 36,000-square-foot building.

Miedza — a parts and tooling design engineer — said Pharoplast had been focused on short-run production for local customers, but a lot of that work had moved to China. Now, some of it is returning, with the firm already receiving some reshoring work, he said.

Pallet injection molder Greystone Logistics Inc. diversified into extrusion with its acquisition of the assets of Paradigm Plastic Pallets Inc.

"Customers kept asking for large pallets," Greystone CEO and Chairman Warren Kruger said. He had received requests for products as large as 96 by 48 inches but didn't have the ability to make them with injection molding.

Greystone is based in Tulsa, Okla., with a plant in Bettendorf, Iowa, that has 20 presses with clamping forces of 300-3,300 tons. Paradigm operated out of a 50,000-square-foot facility in Jasper, Ind., where it extruded hollow profiles for its pallets. Among the assets Greystone purchased are two extrusion lines, robotics and associated equipment that will remain in the Jasper plant.

Greystone will continue using 100 percent recycled high density polyethylene for almost all of its pallets, but it does fill rare requests for products made with polypropylene or recycled/virgin mixes. Its customers include companies in automotive, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and consumer markets.

AptarGroup Inc. added manufacturing capacity in the Middle East with the purchase of an existing closure maker. The company acquired majority control of Gulf Closures of Sitra, Bahrain, a facility with about 60 workers supplying products to both local and global brands in the Persian Gulf.

Aptar said the company started focusing on the Middle East four years ago with the opening of a sales office in Dubai. Gulf Closures provides products to companies in the Middle East and Africa. Its products include closures, capping machines, bottle changing parts and services. The firm can make 2 billion caps per year, and it is a supplier to Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., according to the company's website.

In the 3D printing market, four firms merged to create a new one called Uptive. The new firm will offer a wide variety of 3D manufacturing technologies aimed at "creating a disruptive moment in a field that prioritizes volume over customer service."

Made up of Re3DTech, GoProto, Stanfordville Machine & Manufacturing and Phoenix Proto Technologies, Uptive provides production-grade parts to the medical, electronics, consumer, automotive, aerospace and defense, automation and industrial markets. The new company's capabilities include additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, injection molding, tooling, and post-processing and finishing.

The creation of Uptive reflects its expanded offerings and aligns with growth strategy plans, according to Uptive CEO Tom Kerscher. "As the digital manufacturing landscape shifts to a more automated … and virtual marketplace, our biggest strength remains our ability to offer human-driven quick response expertise, unmatched customer service and high-quality components throughout every step of the manufacturing process," he said.

Offerings under the Uptive umbrella from Re3DTech are additive manufacturing capabilities, including HP multijet fusion; from GoProto are plastic and metal part rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, cast urethane, production parts and part finishing; from Stanfordville Machine & Manufacturing are CNC machining of aluminum, steel, stainless steel, brass, copper and plastic parts; and from Phoenix Proto Technologies are on-demand manufacturing of prototypes and production quantity parts with a specialty in aluminum tooling and injection molding services.

Packaging giant Berry Global Group Inc. surprised some market watchers by acquiring Canadian injection molder Pro-Western Plastics Ltd. for $88 million. That firm now will be operated within the Consumer Packaging North America Segment of Evansville, Ind.-based Berry.

Pro-Western has about 180 workers and brings "a highly complementary portfolio of high density polyethylene bulk and retail containers to Berry's existing container offerings," Berry officials said.

The move was somewhat surprising since Berry in May announced plans to close at least 15 global production sites to cut costs and improve efficiencies. The firm in October 2022 had cut 100 indirect labor jobs.

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