logo

Private equity helps Comar target Europe

By: Jim Johnson

October 25, 2013

Plastics packaging and liquid dispensing company Comar Inc. wants to grow its product line and geographic reach now that a majority of the operation has been acquired by private equity firm Graham Partners Inc.

Comar makes items used in the pharmaceutical, diagnostic, health and personal-care markets, such as droppers, cups, bottles, closures and oral dispensers.

Michael Ruggieri will remain president and CEO of Comar, which has plants in Buena, N.J., and Cayey, Puerto Rico.

“We realized that building our business on a global scale was going to take a little bit more resources than we had, not only with capital, but with people,” Ruggieri said in an Oct. 25 telephone interview.

About 18-24 months ago, Comar began to realize the family business might have to change its ownership philosophy and bring in some additional financial muscle. About eight to 12 months ago, the firm started looking at financial partners who were interested in buying into the business. P&M Corporate Finance LLC was financial adviser to Comar through that process.

“We were overw¬helmed with interest, absolutely overwhelmed with interest. We absolutely could pick and choose, and it was a tough decision. We had a lot of people at the table,” Ruggieri said. “Graham really stood out from the pack.”

In the end, Buena-based Comar only had to look about an hour or so away to Graham Partners, based in Newtown Square, Pa., not far from Philadelphia.

While Graham purchased a majority share of Comar, Ruggieri holds the second-largest stake. Two other family members also retained interest in the company.

With the financial backing of private equity, the 300-employee company will begin looking overseas for opportunities, again with the help of P&M Corporate Finance. “Our first target is the European market. The global pharmaceutical market is really driven from the U.S. and from Europe. The major players are there,” he said.

The firm also will look at South America and India over time while keeping a focus on North America, the CEO said.

“We really began to see our customer base looking for us to have a more-global footprint. We supply all of the major global pharmaceutical players. And, naturally, as they build and grow and merge and consolidate, products are shifting around the world. And a global footprint for us, for our business, is becoming more and more important,” Ruggieri said.

Graham managing principal Adam Piatkowski, could not be reached for comment. In a statement, he said his firm will use its “industry knowledge” to build on Comar’s “strong capabilities” to help it expand.