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After selling the tooling company five years ago, the former owners of Snider Mold Co. have bought it back from automotive supplier Lear Corp.

The buyout returns majority ownership of the Mequon, Wis.-based mold-making company to Snider Mold President Tim Mieritz and James Meinert, international sales director. Engineering manager Brian Kiel and plant manager David Kriegel both have minority ownership stakes in the 37-year-old company.

In 1992, Mieritz and Meinert sold the molding company to ASA Technologies Inc., a Sheboygan, Wis.-based injection molder of automotive interior trim and other products. ASA later was sold to Automotive Industries Holding Inc., a supplier in Rochester Hills, Mich.

That company was sold in July 1995 to Lear Seating Corp., a major automotive supplier based in Southfield, Mich. Lear later shortened its name to Lear Corp.

``It was a case of a big fish eating smaller fish,'' said Meinert, who owned 60 percent of the company before the buyout by ASA. ``When you get down to it, mold making is a small, entrepreneurial business. So we decided to reacquire the company that we've worked for years to build.''

The tooling company specializes in compression, injection, structural foam and reaction injection molds serving the automotive, agricultural and marine markets, among others. Meinert has worked at the company for 30 years and Mieritz for 28 years.

With the purchase now complete, the owners are considering expansion plans within the next year, Meinert said. Besides the Mequon location, the mold maker also has a sales and engineering office in Mexico City and representatives in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia.

Snider, which has 50 employees, records annual sales of less than $10 million, Meinert said. The purchase price was not announced.