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Big deals, frequent buys in first half of 2022

Jul 31, 2023Jul 31, 2023

Big numbers and frequent buyers filled the plastics M&A market in the first half of 2022.

• SyBridge Technologies LP of Southfield, Mich., announced four plastics deals, including two that closed in late 2021. The firm bought plastics tooling firms Lakeshore Fixture & Gauge Ltd. in Canada and Action Mold and Machining Inc. The Action purchase includes its tooling unit, Action Tooling LLC, both in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Action launched in 1997, repairing plastic injection molds and tooling. It then added new plastic injection and die-cast injection molds to its offerings using metal additive manufacturing. Action also has custom injection molding, with seven presses.

Lakeshore, based in Tecumseh near Windsor, Ontario, gives SyBridge in-house ability to design, manufacture, certify and repair fixtures, gauges and end-of-arm tooling.

SyBridge also acquired Advantage Engineering Inc. of Windsor to offer online quoting for digital rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing as well as bridge tooling.

SyBridge's fourth recent deal was for Fitchburg, Mass.-based Wachusett Precision Tool Inc. to expand its customer base and footprint in the life sciences and consumer markets. Founded in 2016, WPT produces prototype, pilot and production molds for medical and consumer packaging customers.

SyBridge now has made 11 acquisitions since its inception in 2019.

• Medical and health care packaging maker Comar LLC made two acquisitions, including one announced in the last week of 2021. Voorhees, N.J.-based Comar purchased Omega Packaging, a La Mirada, Calif.-based injection and blow molder that serves the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, sports nutrition and skin care markets. Omega, founded in 2012, makes closures and jars and has in-house toolmaking.

Comar also acquired Wicklow, Ireland-based injection molder Automatic Plastics Ltd., expanding the company internationally for the first time. APL, designs, develops, molds and assembles medical devices and rigid pharmaceutical packaging at a facility that houses 30 injection molding machines.

"As part of our global vision, we believe it is critical to have a presence in Europe to better serve our medical and pharmaceutical customers, many of whom have global reach," Comar CEO Mike Ruggieri said.

• Plastic Components Inc. — the Germantown, Wis., injection molder that has made Plastics News' Best Places to Work list for eight consecutive years — was acquired by Rosti Group AB of Malmö, Sweden.

PCI makes engineered parts for the medical, plumbing, pool and aquatics, small engine and automotive markets. PCI CEO and President Derrill Rice said that Rosti shares PCI's vision for scientific molding and innovation, such as PCI's patented lights-out manufacturing design that allows it to run a facility 24/7 without human operators.

Rosti, a contract injection molder founded in 1944, has eight plants in Europe and Asia. It serves the packaging, medical, automotive and consumer goods industries. Morgenthaler Private Equity of Cleveland had owned PCI since 2017. Rice said MPE has a typical investment horizon of five years, "and we are now at that five-year mark."

The plastics machinery market saw first-half M&A deals from Uniloy Inc. and Entek Manufacturing Inc.

Tecumseh, Mich.-based Uniloy, a blow molding machine builder and mold technology company, made a pair of deals. The firm acquired all assets of Century Die Co. LLC in Fremont, Ohio, to expand its mold lineup. Century Die makes blow mold tooling for plastics packaging, particularly bottles and containers for household goods, health, beauty, cleaning and automotive products.

With the acquisition, Uniloy's mold capabilities will be increased and its mold lineup will be the most comprehensive in blow molding, according to President and CEO Brian Marston.

Uniloy also purchased the assets of the defunct Amsler Equipment Inc. in Vaughan, Ontario. The deal ends a tumultuous period for Amsler, which shut down last year as a result of the liquidation of Niigon Machines Ltd.

With the purchase, Uniloy enters the PET stretch blow molding (SBM) machine market and will provide support for Amsler equipment going forward under the new Uniloy SBM product line.

"We saw a significant opportunity to support the customers left without service and spare parts when Amsler ceased operations," Marston said. "In addition to offering aftermarket support, Uniloy has plans to offer Uniloy SBM machines in the future."

Extruder builder Entek acquired one of its suppliers of material handling systems, Placentia, Calif.-based Adaptive Engineering & Fabrication Inc. Adaptive specializes in difficult-to-handle and convey materials.

Lebanon, Ore.-based Entek and AEF have partnered on projects as customer and supplier for many years, officials said, making the combination of the companies a natural next step in providing a more streamlined platform for processors.

Apollo Global Management Inc. paid $6 billion for a majority stake in Novolex Holdings Inc., a diverse packaging manufacturer. The purchase continues a long history between private equity firms for the company known as Hilex Poly before a 2014 name change.

Carlyle Group retained a minority portion in Novolex. The firm makes a variety of plastic bags through its Hilex Poly division, including so-called T-shirt retail bags, produce bags and specialty products such as ice bags. Other business units include Heritage Bag, a maker of institutional garbage can liners and medical waste bags and Waddington Group, a thermoformed packaging maker. Novolex's portfolio has expanded in recent years to include paper fiber-based packaging as well.

Novolex is No. 9 in the newest Plastics News ranking of North American thermoformers with an estimated $500 million in annual sales for the region. It ranks as No. 6 among film makers in North America, with $1.5 billion in annual sales.

New York private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice paid $5.8 billion in an all-cash deal for Cary, N.C.-based Cornerstone Building Brands Inc., the largest manufacturer of exterior building products in North America.

CD&R owned more than 49 percent of the shares of common stock for Cornerstone, which makes vinyl windows and siding, stone veneer and metal roofing, wall systems and accessories. The firm is buying the remaining shares of Cornerstone, which will become a privately held company when the deal is done. Cornerstone owns the Ply Gem brands of construction products.

The acquisition will accelerate the manufacturer's "aspiration" to become a premier source of exterior building products, according to Cornerstone President and CEO Rose Lee. With $2.28 billion in annual profile sales, Cornerstone is the second largest pipe, profile and tubing producer in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.

Clearlake Capital Group LP paid in $2.6 billion for Intertape Polymer Group Inc. Intertape is a global maker of plastic film and other packaging materials based in Montreal and Sarasota, Fla. Clearlake is a private equity firm based in Santa Monica, Calif.

The purchase price is based on an offer of more than $31 per share for Intertape, which was listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"We believe this transaction is a great next step in the evolution of our business as Clearlake has strong industry knowledge in the protective packaging and e-commerce ecosystems," Intertape President and CEO Greg Yull said. Based on the most recent PN ranking, Intertape is North America's 18th-largest film and sheet maker, with annual sales of $560 million.

Carton maker SIG Combibloc Group Ltd. paid $1.54 billion for Scholle IPN Corp., a bag-in-box and spouted pouch maker. The new owner said the deal expands the combined firm's geography, product offerings and sustainability. The trasaction brings the world's largest bag-in-box maker, as well as the world's second-largest spouted pouch maker, into SIG's fold.

SIG's purchase includes assumption of a cash payment of $418 million, stock valued at $768 million and assumption of $350 million in debt. Scholle IPN owner Laurens Last will become SIG's largest shareholder after the deal closes with just over 9 percent of the company. Last also can receive up to an additional $100 million per year from 2023 to 2025 based on company performance.

The combined company will have nearly 8,000 employees and 69 manufacturing and sales locations around the world. Capabilities include film extrusion, injection molding, renewable paper substrates and filling equipment.

Plastic Omnium paid $634 million for the European and North American automotive lighting units of Varroc Engineering. The French supplier said it will create a new lighting business unit with expected revenue of $1.1 billion, including sales from Osram Automotive Lighting Systems, which it bought last year for $69 million.

Varroc's lighting activities operate as Varroc Lighting Systems, and are based near Detroit in Plymouth, Mich. The company's roots date to the 19th century. It was part of Ford's Visteon unit until Varroc acquired it in 2012.

Commercial Metals Co. paid $550 million for Alpharetta, Ga.-based Tensar Corp. to expand its construction offerings with ground reinforcement products.

Tensar. previously owned by private equity firm Castle Harlan Inc., makes plastic geogrids in rolled sheets for subgrade ground stabilization, soil reinforcement and to extend the life of asphalt. Tensar products are are made mostly of polypropylene or high density polyethylene and are used with Irving Texas-based CMC's steel forms and rebar in many applications to reduce site excavation and aggregates volumes.

Boston-based private equity firm Advent International Corp. paid $262 million for a 25 percent stake in Joinville, Brazil-based Tigre Group. The U.S. is a key market for family-owned Tigre's civil construction and water treatment products, such as PVC plumbing elbows and drain, waste and vent fittings.

Founded in 1941, Tigre has a portfolio of 15,000 products made at nine facilities in Brazil and 13 abroad, including three in the United States. In 2021, Tigre acquired PVC pipe fitting maker Dura Plastic Products Inc., which has a manufacturing operation in Celina, Tenn.

ABC Technologies Holdings Inc. paid $255 million to acquire dlhBowles Inc. from Morgenthaler Private Equity Partners. North Canton, Ohio-based dlhBowles makes camera and sensor cleaning systems for advanced driving and thermal management for electric vehicles. Its plastics operations include injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming. Toronto-based ABC Technologies is one of North America's largest injection and blow molders.

"The acquisition of dlhBowles further solidifies ABC Technologies' leadership position in the North American washer systems market," Todd Sheppelman, president and CEO of ABC Technologies, said.

Intertech Plastics is a former Processor of the Year winner.

As addictions go, acquiring plastics firms is a relatively harmless one. That may be one reason why some firms tend to make many such deals, including quite a few in the first half.

Tide Rock Holdings LLC remained on the acquisition trail, buying Plastic Molding Technology Inc., a well-known precision injection molder based in El Paso, Texas. The seller was PMT CEO Charles A. Sholtis, who will remain as an adviser to the company. "We decided to partner with Tide Rock to be able to achieve the next level of growth," Sholtis said.

For Tide Rock, the deal is its fourth plastics purchase in the past year. Most recently, it acquired custom injection molder and toolmaker Altratek Plastics Inc. of Longmont, Colo., late last year. Tide Rock is based in Encinitas, Calif., about 25 miles north of San Diego.

Tank Holding Corp., already North America's largest rotational molder, grew even bigger with the purchase of Dutchland Plastics LLC. Dutchland makes high-volume rotationally molded products including kayaks, coolers, playground equipment and furniture at manufacturing sites in Oostburg, Wis., and Canastota, N.Y. "Dutchland brings significant volume and capacity to our rotational molding platform," Tank Holding CEO Greg Wade said in a statement.

The acquisition brings $50 million in annual sales with 280 workers and nine machines, according to the estimates in latest PN ranking of rotomolders in North America. That's good enough to tie for No. 8 on the list based on 2020 numbers. Tank Holding is, by far, the largest rotomolder in North America with estimated annual sales of $420 million in 2020, according to Plastics News data.

Flexible packaging company ProAmpac made yet another acquisition, this time in Canada. The Cincinnati-based flexible packaging company bought Belle-Pak Packaging Inc. of Markham, Ontario, in a move that "expands its growing presence in Canada and extends its reach in high-growth e-commerce, health care and logistics end markets," the company said. Belle-Pack makes poly mailers; security bags; packing list envelopes; and retail, medical and clinical bags.

TriMas Corp. bought Intertech Plastics LLC, a Denver-based injection molder that was Plastics News' 2019 Processor of the Year. Intertech is well known in plastics circles for its Swiss-style apprentice programs. The company is a high-volume, high-cavitation specialist with significant medical and packaging customers.

TriMas is a publicly traded company based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. It serves consumer, aerospace and industrial markets, with about 3,300 employees in 11 countries. The deal is TriMas' sixth packaging company acquisition since early 2019, and its second of an injection molder with medical customers.

Dennis Savalia continued his buying spree by acquiring injection molder Molding Corp. of America. He's now made seven plastics acquisitions in less than four years. MCA is the largest of the seven, all of which are located in Southern California.

Savalia said that MCA operates 27 injection molding machines at a 65,000-square-foot location. He's acquiring the firm from Mark Hurley and Sandra Rinder. The combined businesses acquired by Savalia now employ more than 100. The MCA deal is Savalia's first since acquiring Performance Engineered Products Inc. of Pomona in late 2018. He then combined his previous acquisitions at PEP's location.

In one case, the hunter became the hunted. After making nine acquisitions since 2018, custom profile and tubing extruder Pexco LLC was re-acquired by Odyssey Investment Partners LLC. The Atlanta-based private equity firm, which had owned Pexco from 2012-17, bought the company from AEA Investors, a private equity firm based in New York that had acquired Pexco in 2018.

With estimated sales of $250 million, Pexco is the 19th-largest pipe, profile and tubing producer in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking. Earlier in the year, Pexco had made an upstream move by acquiring Performance Elastomers Corp. of Ravenna, Ohio. PEC makes dense and sponge elastomer products, including both rubber-based and thermoplastic elastomers.

Flexible packaging maker Sigma Plastics Group — a frequent dealmaker — teamed with plastic strapping firm Teufelberger Group of Austria on a joint venture to acquire Marflex M.J. Maillis Poland from Maillis International SA, a maker of stretch film and strapping. The Kraczew, Poland-based firm has total annual production of approximately 120 million pounds and is a Top 10 supplier in both stretch film and strapping in Europe.

"Sigma was very fortunate to have a like-minded partner in Teufelberger with a similar vision for Marflex. Marflex management and operations fit on the higher end of industry standards. We are very excited to welcome the Marflex operations and team to the Sigma family and growing into new geographic territories," Sigma Plastics Chief Financial Officer Andrew Teo said.

Fortis Solutions Group LLC made two acquisitions and now has made 13 since 2014. The firm acquired Profecta Labels Inc. of St-Hubert, Quebec. Profecta is a Canadian flexographic and digital manufacturer of labels and flexible packaging printing, serving industrial, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food and beverage markets.

Fortis also acquired Label Tech Inc. of Somersworth, N.H. Label Tech makes pressure sensitive and non-pressure sensitive labels and flexible packaging for the consumer product, food and beverage and health and beauty segments. Fortis is based in Virginia Beach, Va., and is owned by private equity firm Harvest Partners LP of New York. The company has 17 locations and more than 1,100 employees.

Forest Lake, Minn.-based medical device injection molder Teamvantage Molding LLC acquired medical device manufacturer MMD Medical LLC, the medical division of Brooklyn Park, Minn.-based Metro Mold & Design. Located in a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, MMD Medical's capabilities include injection molding, precision machining and tooling.

SVP Global, a Greenwich, Conn.-based investment firm, acquired Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based Associated Materials LLC, a building products manufacturer with $1.6 billion in annual sales, 11 production sites and 4,400 employees. Associated sells windows, vinyl siding and composite cladding under brands like Alside, Gentek, Alpine and Preservation.

With an estimated $335 million in plastic profile sales, Associated ranks 15th among North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders, according to Plastics News' latest ranking, and was No. 6 among profiles processors.

Gasket maker Sur-Seal Co. of Cincinnati expanded into the Southeast by acquiring Mueller Custom Cut, a Charlotte, N.C.-based die cutter that produces gaskets, fasteners and other sealing products. The acquisition expands Sur-Seal's engineering and manufacturing abilities and broadens its range of performance materials.

Sur-Seal then sold "key assets to ALP Lighting Components Inc., allowing ALP to expand its optical silicone molding capabilities."

Hilliard, Ohio-based Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. acquired Brookfield, Conn.-based Cultec Inc. to expand its product offering in the stormwater and on-site septic wastewater markets. Family-owned Cultec has a strong reputation for innovation and expertise with engineers and contractors, according to ADS President and CEO Scott Barbour.

Cultec's products are primarily injection molded from high density polyethylene, and the company outsources its manufacturing. ADS is the third-largest pipe extruder in North America with $1.49 billion in pipe sales, according to Plastics News data.

JBC Technologies Inc., a flexible materials converter in North Ridgeville, Ohio, bought HST Materials Inc., a fabricator and converter of plastics, rubber and tape. HST operates a 10,500-square-foot plant in Elk Grove Village, Ill. HST expands JBC's geographic reach and adds to its presence in the automotive and off-road transportation markets.

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