By: Michael Lauzon
April 26, 2013
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, PA. —The combination of Conair Group and Thermal Care Inc. should create a powerhouse in plastics heat-transfer technology, officials said in an April 26 teleconference.
The two firms' thermal technology overlaps but together their engineers can advance the technology in plastics markets, said Chris Keller, CEO of IPEG Inc. — Conair's owner and soon to be owner of Thermal Care. The companies expect the combination to be a heavyweight in plastics thermal control.
"We've known Thermal Care for many years and see it as a strategic and cultural fit," Keller said.
IPEG boosted its stake in plastics auxiliary equipment earlier in April when it bought Republic Machine Inc., a producer of single-shaft shredders in Louisville, Ky. Republic will operate as a division of Rapid Granulator AB, an IPEG-owned maker of granulators and smaller, high-speed grinders. Bredaryd, Sweden-based Rapid currently makes only one single-shaft shredder, the Granumatic, and Republic adds a broad line of shredders, including large machines that handle film, wood, rubber and medical waste.
Rapid CEO Kirk Winstead said IPEG will retain Republic Machine's management, including founder George Sotsky.
Terms were not disclosed for either deal.
The Thermal Care acquisition is expected to close April 30.
Keller said IPEG's recent acquisitions give it a lot to digest but the company is not ruling out other acquisitions.
Thermal Care is a big producer of temperature controllers, portable and central chillers, cooling towers and pump tanks for plastics and other industries. Conair has similar product lines. Keller declined to disclose the differences between the firms' technologies.
Conair, based in Cranberry Township, near Pittsburgh, and Thermal Care will operate independently but will share resources. Thermal Care, as a wholly owned subsidiary of IPEG, will maintain its production and offices in Niles, Ill.
Thermal Care and Conair have similar water temperature control technologies but have rarely competed for the same business. Thermal Care's business has been localized in North America. Conair is more globally represented but also weighted to the U.S. Rapid Granulator has heavy overseas sales.
IPEG's ownership of Thermal Care dovetails with its emphasis on plastics machinery, according to Keller. Thermal Care's former owner, publicly traded MFRI Inc., said it will focus on piping systems and filtration products.
Conair President Larry Doyle said the Thermal Care-Conair combination will feature 20 full-time engineers working on heat-transfer equipment.
"And that doesn't even include systems and applications engineering staff," Doyle said in a news release. Doyle last year was promoted from Conair's vice president of global sales and marketing to the presidential post.
IPEG provides support for its brands in the U.S., Sweden, China and India. The Thermal Care purchase will diversify its involvement in markets beyond plastics. About half of Thermal Care's sales flow into fifty other industries, including printing, laser cooling, heat treating, die casting and optical coating.
Tom Benson, a 25-year employee for Thermal Care and its former vice president of sales and marketing, will be named its president.
In addition to single-shaft shredders, Republic designs specialized shredders to handle long lengths of plastic pipe, profiles, carpet and plastic lumber. They feature the modular Split-A-Part design, which makes it easy to clean and maintain the shredder, and the Zoidal cutting system, which prevents film and fiber scrap from wrapping around the robot, reduces cutter wear and allows tighter cutting tolerances. In North America the shredders will be sold through existing Republic distribution channels and globally through Rapid and Conair.