INVESTMENT FIRMS ACQUIRE TREND PLASTICS

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Gino Cavallini sold Trend Plastics Inc. and Tool-Tech Corp., his injection molding and toolmaking operations, to outside investment firms March 21.

As founder and sole owner, Cavallini carried his San Jose, Calif.-based business to $100 million in sales and 850 employees but was not positioned to take Trend Plastics Inc. to the next level of growth.

Cavallini, 55, will remain for a few months during the transition and continue as a consultant to the new, expansion-oriented owners, Riverside Co. in partnership with Plastics Capital Group. No terms were disclosed.

``We will put a plant in San Diego by the fourth quarter, and we are in active negotiations to acquire other domestic molders,'' Stuart J. Benton, PCG partner, said in a telephone interview. He is Trend's chairman and chief executive officer.

Initially, a leased Trend plant will supply plastic parts to San Diego-area electronics customers Hewlett-Packard Co. and Hughes Electronics Inc., the latter for direct-television boxes, and sunglass manufacturer Oakley Inc. in Foothill Ranch, Calif.

``We want to consolidate and follow the customers globally,'' Benton said, mentioning Ireland, Singapore and Mexico as possible expansion sites.

He said about 80 percent of Trend's business involves supplying ``plastic enclosures for the computer market.'' Customers include Sun Microsystems Inc., Apple Computer Inc., Silicon Graphics Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and US Robotics Inc.

Joseph Jahn joined Trend on March 24 as president and chief operating officer. He had been vice president of operations for Portola Packaging Inc., a San Jose manufacturer of proprietary tamper-evident closures with four plants in the United States. Trend does not anticipate additional management changes.

Cavallini emigrated from northern Italy, worked for toolmaking shops and began his own company, Tool-Tech Corp., in a Santa Clara, Calif., garage in 1973. He began molding plastic parts under the Trend name in 1980, relocated the businesses to San Jose in 1983 and maintained Tool-Tech as the parent company until completion of the sale.

The toolmaking operation, now Tool-Tech division, employs 55, occupies a 20,000-square-foot facility in San Jose and recorded 1996 sales of about $9 million. It supplies tooling for complex enclosures, parts and components.

Trend Plastics' operations in San Jose employ 630 in molding, assembly and administration and occupy 140,000 square feet in five buildings. Secondary operations include printing and assembly involving enclosures, shielding, fans and wiring harnesses.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland registered Trend's San Jose operations to ISO 9001 standards in 1994.

Trend expanded to two other states in 1994. An Albuquerque operation employs 150 at two manufacturing and warehouse buildings totaling 61,000 square feet.

A Colorado Springs, Colo., site employs 15 at a 15,000-square-foot assembly and warehouse location.

Trend operates 80 injection molding presses, including 19 with clamping forces of less than 100 tons, 33 presses in the 100-349 ton range, 26 in the 350-749 ton range and two in the 750-1,199-ton range. Molding operations had resin throughput of 26 million pounds and accounted for 1996 sales of about $91 million, up from $84 million the previous year.

Riverside Co., with offices in New York and Cleveland, specializes in management and leveraged buyouts.

Riverside principals have structured acquisitions of 13 middle-market firms with annual sales of $1 million-$260 million, and may structure Trend for a public offering of common stock, perhaps in five years.

Stewart Kohl, managing partner, said Riverside acquired Viking Plastics Inc. of Corry, Pa., in March 1994 and, in late 1994, merged it with Omega Pultrusions Inc. of Aurora, Ohio.

In early 1995, the combined operation acquired Reno, Nev.-based pultruder Carsonite International and moved Carsonite to facilities in Varnville and Early Branch, S.C.

Key Equity Capital Group of Cleveland sponsored the Omega transaction and is an investor in Trend.

New York-based Plastics Capital Group was organized in March 1995 to acquire and consolidate middle-market plastic injection molding and thermoforming businesses, according to Benton.