UNIPLAST TO ACQUIRE PCL BLOWN FILM PLANT

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Film producer Uniplast Industries Inc. plans to make its second U.S. acquisition in about a year by acquiring a Columbus, Ind., facility from PCL Packaging Inc.

Uniplast, based in Orillia, Ontario, about 90 miles north of Toronto, will gain its first U.S. Midwest facility in the deal. It also will acquire a blown film extrusion line and auxiliary equipment at Columbus. Officials did not disclose terms of the agreement, which they expect to complete by mid-March.

Bill Swinimer, Uniplast president and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview that his company may buy new blown film equipment for Columbus but he could provide no details. He expects the purchase to boost Uniplast's sales by at least C$500,000 (US$372,500) per month. If Uniplast adds more capacity there, Columbus should generate annual sales of C$20 million (US$14.9 million) within a few years, he predicted.

PCL decided to sell the Columbus operation because it wants fewer, larger plants to increase efficiency, according to Ron Braun, PCL vice president of sales and marketing. It has operated the 45,000-square-foot Columbus plant for 10 years. PCL Packaging is a subsidiary of PCL Plastics Corp. of Oakville, Ontario.

PCL will expand its Pueblo,Colo., film and bag facility, Braun said in a telephone interview from Oakville. Part of the expansion will include relocated Columbus equipment such as a thick/thin blown film extrusion line and retail bag-making machinery not included in the sale to Uniplast.

PCL also will transfer an undisclosed amount of Columbus' equipment to its other plants in Oakville, and in Delta, British Columbia, and Saint John, New Brunswick.

Columbus will be Uniplast's seventh plant. Last year it bought Turex Inc. of Harrisville, R.I., which launched it into metallocene films for laminating.

Uniplast runs two film plants in Palmer, Mass., and one in Jacksonville, Fla., all of which came in its 1992 acquisition of Pierson Industries Inc. Its two Orillia facilities were ISO 9001 registered last summer. Uniplast plans to register its U.S. plants under ISO 9000 quality certification this year.

Swinimer said his company will run metallocene resin blends and other film products at Columbus. The purchase will give his firm new capability to produce film rolls as large as 40 inches in diameter. Uniplast will employ some Columbus workers, who number fewer than 50, but Swinimer said the exact number will depend on whether Uniplast expands the plant. He indicated the private company seeks other acquisitions.

Uniplast had 1995 sales of US$64 million in flexible packaging, diaper and other markets. It makes blown, cast, coextruded and micro-embossed films from various polyethylenes, Surlyn ionomer and Selar amorphous polyester.

PCL's 1995 film and bag sales were US$62.7 million. In 1992 it closed its Fullerton, Calif., plant when it opened its new Pueblo, Colo., facility. It sold the Fullerton operation to Plasco Packaging Ltd. later that year.