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Mergon buys Dutchland Plastics blow molding assets

By: Bill Bregar

March 22, 2013

OOSTBURG, WIS. — Rotational molder Dutchland Plastics Corp. is selling its blow molding equipment — including three machines in a Greenville, S.C., plant — to Mergon Corp. in nearby Anderson, S.C.

The sale of the three machines in Greenville closed March 7, according to Mergon CEO Patrick Beirne.

Daven Claerbout, vice chairman of Dutchland Plastics, said his company also is selling the eight blow molding machines in Oostburg, Wis.

Dutchland, owned by brothers Carl and Daven Claerbout, first got into industrial blow molding in the mid-1990s at the headquarters plant in Oostburg, adding accumulator-head, extrusion blow molding machines.

Blow molding complemented Dutchland's rotational molding, allowing the company to offer both types of manufacturing processes. In early 2012, the rotomolder bought the Greenville assets of Continental Southern industries Inc.

Dutchland is returning to its original manufacturing focus of rotational molding. According to Plastics News' most recent ranking, Dutchland is the 21st-largest rotomolder in North America, with sales of $23 million.

Dutchland Plastics will use its know-how in blow molding to continue to provide complete offerings of parts made with both processes, and assembly.

Mergon Corp. is part of Mergon Group, based in Castlepollard, Ireland. Mergon also runs a plant in Brno, Czech Republic.

Mergon opened its South Carolina plant in 1998.

Beirne said the purchase is an opportunity to expand Mergon into larger blow molded parts and products.

"The biggest machine [at the Dutchland South Carolina operation] has a shot size of 60 pounds. That's one of the reasons we were interested in acquiring the assets," he said.

Terms were not disclosed.

Mergon, which does both blow and injection molding, serves the automotive, health-care and industrial markets.

"We are excited that Dutchland was able to come to an agreement with Mergon Corp.," Daven Claerbout said in a news release. "Mergon is a very reputable manufacturer of [blow molded products] and we know our former customers will be served very well. We also are happy with Mergon's decision to retain several of our former employees."

Beirne said the Greenville plant is about a 45-minute drive from Mergon's plant in Anderson. Mergon bought the equipment, not the building, he said.

For now, Mergon is operating the three blow molding machines at the Greenville location. Will the company move the equipment to Anderson? "We haven't made a final decision as to what the long-term future's going to be," he said by telephone.

Beirne said the capital investment comes because of the solid U.S. economy, and the need for larger-part capacity. "The U.S. for us is a buoyant economy compared to our operations in Europe — the Czech Republic and Ireland," he said.

Before the 60-pound blow molding machine, Mergon's largest machine could run a 35-pound shot.

"We wanted to add to our range in terms of shot size and this was a very attractive way for us to do it," Beirne said.

Mergon's U.S. factory also is boosting the size of its injection press fleet. Beirne said the South Carolina plant accepted delivery of a Nissei press with 625 tons of clamping force March 20. Before that, the biggest-tonnage press there was 300 tons, he said.

"Mergon has continued to grow rapidly in South Carolina with a strong customer base," he said.