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2012 was good to machinery firms

By: Bill Bregar

December 4, 2012

AKRON, OHIO (Dec. 4, 10:45 a.m. ET) — Good times continued to roll for plastics machinery makers in 2012, as the automotive sector kept spending cash on new technology. Machinery officials say the auto investments should continue next year — and with the construction industry finally showing signs of life, they are pretty upbeat.

For machinery, 2012 was another year of hiring and expansion.

Plenty of companies, across all sectors, reported a slowdown in business as the divisive presidential election battle kicked into high gear this fall. That doesn’t usually happen in a U.S. election. But this one was especially intense and divisive. Maybe customers were glued to their TVs watching the debates?

Now that Barack Obama has beaten Mitt Romney, processors know what to expect ... once we get past the fiscal cliff.

NPE2012 made big news in April, by its new location in sunny Orlando, Fla., after a long stint in Chicago. The much better economy helped too, since the last NPE fell during the Great Recession of 2009.

There were a couple of big business deals in 2012 that could have broad impact across the plastics industry. Onex Corp., which bought Davis-Standard LLC as 2011 came to a close, announced in September that it was gobbling up the world’s largest plastics machinery manufacturer, KraussMaffei Group, from Madison Capital Partners.

Milacron LLC got a new private equity owner. A smaller deal saw Graham Group buying American Kuhne Inc. Japan-based Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd. announced it would acquire a major injection press maker in India.

In people news, KraussMaffei got a new CEO in Munich, as Jan Siebert replaced Dietmar Straub. Milacron also announced a new CEO, Tom Goeke, to replace Dennis Smith — and named Ira Boots, of Berry Plastics fame, as its chairman.

In Europe, Bernhard Merki departed Netstal-Maschinen AG, ending a 24-year career at the Swiss-based press maker.

On a sad note, 2012 saw the death of Irvin Rubin, an injection molding guru and one of plastics’ old-school characters.

Here’s a month-by-month recap:

October 2011

 KraussMaffei Group named Jan Siebert as CEO of the Munich-based machinery company, effective Jan. 1. Siebert replaced Dietmar Straub in the top spot.

December

 Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp. bought Davis-Standard from Hamilton Robinson Capital Partners just two days before Christmas.

January 2012

 Auctioneers sold 130 injection presses and 20 extruders at four shuttered Fortis Plastics LLC factories. The auction ran from mid-January through early February.

German compounding extruder firm Coperion GmbH bought a majority stake in a pelletizing extruder maker, Pell-Tec Pelletizing Technology GmbH.

Extruder maker American Kuhne Inc. announced a move into blown film lines, working with its partner company in Germany, Kuhne GmbH.

Milacron reinstated a co-op and apprenticeship program for high school students in southwestern Ohio, and began offering up to 10 scholarships each year to help employees pay for post-secondary technical education.

March

 Milacron got a new private equity owner, as Avenue Capital Group sold the machinery maker to CCMP Capital Advisors LLC.

April

The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. held its first NPE in Orlando, as NPE2012 came after 14 straight NPEs at McCormick Place in Chicago. SPI said 55,359 people registered to attend the four-day NPE, held April 1-5. That was a 26 percent increase from the last NPE, held in 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession.

Bernhard Merki, longtime president and CEO of Swiss injection press builder Netstal-Maschinen AG, left the company as part of a restructuring of Netstal and its parent, KraussMaffei Group.

Milacron announced a new chair­man: Ira Boots, the well-known former top executive of packaging giant Berry Plastics Corp.

At NPE2012, officials said Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. was building its third plant in China, a $50 million plant in Suzhou, to meet growing Asian demand for Husky’s beverage packaging and hot-runner systems.

Davis-Standard will open an assembly plant in Suzhou, executives announced at NPE2012.

Press maker Engel Holding GmbH announced a $15.8 million expansion at its headquarters plant in Schwertberg, Austria.

Absolute Haitian Corp., the U.S. unit of Chinese injection press maker Ningbo Haitian Machinery Co., announced plans to open a technical center in Parma, Ohio, in 2013.

June

 Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd. announced plans to build a factory in Thailand.

Publicly traded Nordson Corp. said it would pay $200 million for Xaloy Inc., the largest U.S. maker of screws and barrels. That June 4 announcement followed just nine business days after Nordson announced it was paying the same amount for flat-die maker Extrusion Dies Industries LLC.

Industry activist Irvin Rubin, who wrote the seminal technical book, Injection Molding Theory and Practice, died June 25 at his Brooklyn residence. He was a mem­ber of the Plastics Hall of Fame.

B&P Process Equipment and Systems LLC was named the Michigan and Midwest Regional Exporter of the Year, by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

July

 Sumitomo (SHI) Demag promoted John F. Martich III, a 25-year veteran of Van Dorn in Ohio, to chief operating officer of the company’s U.S. operations.

Public company Barnes Group Inc. bought hot-runner maker Synventive Molding Solutions Inc. in a deal announced in July.

August

 Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd. announced in a filing on the Bombay Stock Exchange that it was buying L&T Plastics Machinery Ltd., one of India’s largest manufacturers of injection molding machines.

September

Onex said it was buying Krauss­Maffei from Madison Capital for 568 million euros ($732 million).

Milacron named a new CEO, Tom Goeke, to replace Dennis Smith. The equipment manufacturer also launched its new apprenticeship training program at UC Clermont, a regional campus.

October

 Coperion was purchased by Hillenbrand Inc., which also owns auxiliary equipment makers K-Tron International and Rotex Global LLC.

Graham Group announced it bought American Kuhne.

Davis-Standard purchased systems integrator Circonix Technologies LLC, which does drive and control retrofits, and CX Systems, which makes control panels and does rigging for machinery relocations.

November

 Krones AG the German maker of blow molding and bottling equipment, and its U.S. subsidiary, Krones Inc., will take a pretax hit of about $100 million to settle legal actions stemming from a fraud scheme run by a former customer, Le-Nature’s Inc. Company officials said Krones was manipulated by Le-Nature’s and did not knowingly participate in fraudulent activities.