EPTECH BUYS A.L. HYDE MOLDING BUSINESS

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Eptech Corp. of Warminster, Pa., has purchased the injection molding business and some assets from A.L. Hyde Co.

Hyde, based in Grenloch, N.J., has divested the molding to focus on its chief business of extruded plastic stock shapes and custom profiles, said Richard Garthwaite, president.

Hyde recently has been busy boosting that business by buying extruder Plastifab Industries Inc. of Montreal, which, in 1995, did nearly $8 million in sales. Garthwaite put total sales for Hyde's three extrusion units at about $35 million.

For Eptech, already in the midst of expanding, Hyde's molding business means a sales boost of $4 million to $5 million, more capabilities and a slew of new markets. Before the buy, Eptech did about $2.5 million a year in custom molding sales, mainly electrical fittings, said Chris Rapacki, co-owner and general manager.

Among the assets Eptech acquired were sonic-welding, hot-stamping and insert equipment, but none of Hyde's 17 injection presses, Rapacki said. The molder had been looking to add some secondary services to its repertoire once it moves later this month from its 12,000-square-foot Warminster plant to a leased facility four times that size in Mount Laurel, N.J.

The companies announced the December deal Jan. 8. Financial terms, which were undisclosed, were arranged to allow Eptech sufficient cash flow to buy four new Goldstar presses, ranging from 150-500 tons, to accommodate the new business, Rapacki said.

Eptech, which now operates 12 presses and employs 25, is hiring about 15-20 of Hyde's molding people, both in production and sales, he said. Last year Hyde's injection molding unit did roughly $6.7 million in sales, and employed about 50. But Garthwaite said that work force has dwindled since then. Together Eptech and Hyde reabsorbed all but three or four of those people, he said in a Jan. 8 telephone interview.

Some of Hyde's molding customers opted not to go with Eptech, said Bob Gold, Hyde's chief financial officer. But the products of those that did include battery casings, lab equipment, binders for storing hospital patient data, and medical waste containers, which are molded on the 500-ton presses.

Said Gold: ``This is very positive for both companies. It's giving A.L. Hyde an opportunity to redeploy assets into new technology and focus our efforts on our strength, which is the extrusion business.''

Besides Grenloch, where it has 30 extruders and about 100 workers, and Plastifab, Hyde owns World Plastic Extruders Inc. of Moonachie, N.J., whose main market is point-of-purchase displays, Garthwaite said.

Currently Hyde is integrating Plastifab into its overall operations. With the Oct. 28 buy, Hyde entered the tubing market, though there also is some overlap of product lines, he said.

Hyde's main business is in stock shapes — extruded rod and slab — and custom profiles made mainly from engineering resins, like acetal, nylon and polycarbonate, Gold said.

Early last year, after 18 months of negotiations, Hyde scrapped plans to acquire extruder Penn Fibre and Specialty Co. Inc., based in Philadelphia.

``We're always looking at acquisitions and new technological opportunities that could ... grow the market base,'' Gold said.

Since Hyde entered injection molding in 1939, the process has become a small part of the mix, according to Garthwaite. The company is a unit of publicly held Danaher Corp. of Washington, D.C., which reported sales of about $1.8 billion.