Berlin buys rival Freund

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No. 2 has become No. 1.

Rigid packaging manufacturer Berlin Packaging LLC now claims to be the nation's leader in packaging catalog sales, with its acquisition of Freund Container Inc., previous holder of the top spot. Terms of the Feb. 4 acquisition were not disclosed.

Berlin Packaging is touted as the largest U.S. stocking supplier of plastic, glass, and metal containers and closures, with sales of $200 million.

Andrew Berlin, Berlin Packaging's chief executive officer, said similarities between the firms helped lead to the acquisition.

``It's just a natural fit,'' he said. ``We share the same suppliers, the same business model. We're both in Chicago so we share the same culture.''

Another factor was the retirement of Freund Container's owner Kenneth Freund.

``It was a great exit strategy for him,'' Berlin said.

Freund Container officials could not be reached for comment.

According to a news release, Freund mails more than 1 million catalogs annually to a variety of industries. Combined, the two companies claim to control more than 30 percent of the packaging catalog business.

All 45 of family-owned Freund Container's employees will be retained, Berlin said. Berlin Packaging employs more than 200, he said.

Berlin operates 20 facilities in the United States and Freund operates one, he said.