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Graham buys controlling interest in American Kuhne

October 1, 2012

YORK, PA. (Oct. 1, 11 p.m. ET) — Two plastics machinery companies — blow molding equipment maker Graham Engineering Corp. and extruder builder American Kuhne Inc. — now have common ownership.

Graham’s parent company, York-based Graham Group, announced Oct. 1 that it has purchased controlling interest in Ashaway, R.I.-based American Kuhne, a manufacturer of single-screw extruders, screws, and integrated extrusion systems.

The seller is Kuhne GmbH, an extruder maker in Saint Augustin, Germany. Terms were not disclosed.

American Kuhne was founded in 1997 by several former employees of Davis-Standard LLC. Peter Kuhne, president and owner of Kuhne GmbH, was majority shareholder, but American Kuhne and Kuhne GmbH were independent.

“American Kuhne has always operated independently of the Kuhne Group anyway, so the change in control will have no disruptive effect on our business," said Bill Kramer, president of American Kuhne, in a news release.

No German assets of the Kuhne Group were included in the transaction. The current four-person management team of American Kuhne will retain a minority interest in the firm.

For Graham Engineering in York, which is focused on packaging and industrial customers, the addition of American Kuhne helps it diversify into the medical extruder market.

"For the past few years as we have considered how to broaden and grow our machinery activities within business segments familiar to us, Graham Engineering has been carefully looking at potentially complementary businesses," said Wolfgang Liebertz, president of Graham Engineering, in a news release.

Liebertz told Plastics News that Graham wants to diversify. “We are in an expansion mode. The blow molding market is stable, it does not grow that much.” Could that mean more machinery acquisitions? “If tomorrow we run across something similar, we would perhaps look at it,” he said.

Steve Maxson, vice president of extrusion systems, for American Kuhne, said the company will have an opportunity to “leverage the strengths of Graham Engineering, particularly in the area of process controls technology. We see opportunities to advance our position even more within the medical extrusion industry and to further develop complete systems for other markets, such as pipe and profile."

In 2008, American Kuhne moved from its original plant in Norwich, Conn., to Ashaway, near Rhode Island’s border with Connecticut.