ZAG EXHIBITS AT ITS 1ST HOUSEWARES SHOW

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CHICAGO — Zag Industries Ltd., an Israeli consumer products molder that went public two months ago on the Nasdaq stock trading system, wants to find molding partners on the West Coast to help it further penetrate the U.S. market, a top official said last week at the International Housewares Show.

``We're looking for some good molders to produce our stuff,'' said Zvi Yemini, chief executive officer and chairman.

The Housewares Show, held Jan. 12-15, marked Zag's first appearance at the McCormick Place show in Chicago. The Zag booth was crammed with colorful injection molded toolboxes, toys and storage containers.

Yemini co-founded Zag in 1987 as a consulting firm. The company began molding products in 1993. Although Zag is a relative newcomer in the U.S. housewares scene, Yemini said Zag's ability to innovate has already scored it some high-profile partnerships. In the third quarter of 1996, Zag launched a circular-saw case that Yemini said was developed for Home Depot, its largest U.S. customer, and for Wal-Mart. Zag also sells to Target.

Wall Street also has paid attention to the Rosh Ha'Ayin, Israel, firm. On Nov. 1, Zag raised about $20 million from its initial public offering of 3.1 million. Since then, the stock has climbed from $10 a share to nearly $17 in December. With 8.8 million shares outstanding, Zag now has a market capitalization of about $149 million.

Yemini said Zag's core business is tool boxes and storage containers. But Zag has created a venture with Masco Corp. of Taylor, Mich., to mold bathroom accessories.

In Chicago, Zag formally rolled out its first housewares products, developed with the Italian design firm GioStyle of Milan. Zag also is working on products for the fishing and camping markets.

Zag will use net proceeds from the IPO to develop new products and expand marketing, manufacturing and distribution.

The company recently opened a U.S. warehouse in Carteret, N.J. Yemini said Zag runs 40 injection presses in-house, with clamping forces of 50-400 tons. The firm subcontracts work to other molders that have a total of 90 presses from 50-1,500 tons.

Zag, which exports more than 90 percent of its products to some 40 countries, needs U.S. molding partners to better serve the key North American market, Yemini said. Zag will retain ownership over the molds.

Ira Green, marketing manager, said Zag has become adept at designing products for efficient manufacturing with the fewest parts possible. Yemini said Zag can take an idea and turn it into a finished part in six months.

Yemini is a director of the Israel Export Institute. He has been a director of General Electric Polymer Logistics (Europe) since 1993. From 1980-1987, he was senior vice president of research and development at Keter Plastic Ltd., a major plastics processor in Israel.

Zag had sales of $31.3 million in 1995. Year-end figures are not available for 1996. Through the first nine months of 1996, ended Sept. 30, Zag reported sales of $35.1 million, a 70 percent jump from $20.7 million in the first nine months of 1995. Profit for the first nine months increased 54 percent, to $3.75 million, from $2.43 million in the year-earlier period. Zag had $2 million in sales in 1993, its first year of molding.