EPC stays in the hunt for acquisitions

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GRINNELL, IOWA (Oct. 28, 3:25 p.m. ET) — Engineered Plastic Components Inc. has completed its fourth acquisition of the past 12 months and expects to close a fifth by the end of the year.

The newly added companies and individual plants have added diversity in both processing abilities and customer range, and have included both strong, ongoing production facilities and distressed companies, all fitting into what CEO and President Reza Kargarzadeh calls creating a four-legged stool for Grinnell, Iowa-based EPC.

“We’ve been in a good position to be able to take advantage of opportunities, but we have also been able to [add] companies that are good businesses to begin with,” Kargarzadeh said in an Oct. 28 telephone interview.

In October, EPC finalized the purchase of the blow molding business of JCIM LLC – the molding operation owned by auto interior supplier Johnson Controls Inc. of Plymouth, Mich. That includes a facility EPC will operate in Owensboro, Ky., as well as an operation currently in Monroe, Mich.

EPC will move the Monroe blow molding business to an existing manufacturing plant in Columbia, Mo., as well as expanding production near Marysville, Mich.

Other acquisitions this year included parts of injection molders UFE Inc. of Stillwater, Minn., Innatech LLC of Rochester, Mich., and Action Products Inc. of Odessa, Mo. Production from Action Products and Innatech are being consolidated in other EPC plants.

EPC has injection molding, two-shot molding, vacuum forming, urethane foaming, painting and assembly in addition to the expanded blow molding operations. It now has 14 plants in the U.S. and Mexico.

About half of EPC’s business is in auto production with home appliances, consumer products and the medical industries balancing out the customer mix. The addition of JCIM’s manufacturing increases its in-house blow molding capabilities and brings it a wider auto customer base, Kargarzadeh said.

EPC was already blow molding air ducts as part of its instrument panel production in Columbia and Rantoul, Ill., prior to the acquisition of the JCIM units, he said. Adding further production develops additional synergy for all of its interior trim parts.

At the same time, increased business has prompted EPC to boost its production area at the Michigan plants that were once part of Blue Water Plastics Inc.

EPC purchased parts of Blue Water — then called Blue Water Automotive Systems Inc. — in 2008 from bankruptcy. It has been operating two of the plants in St. Clair, Mich. It is now re-opening a third shuttered Blue Water plant in nearby Marysville.

The region has strong production history thanks to Blue Water and other auto suppliers in the region, which makes it a good base for EPC, he said.

The three sites in St. Clair and Marysville will house consolidated manufacturing in Michigan from existing EPC growth as well as molding that will be moved from Innatech in Romeo, Mich., and JCIM in Monroe.