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A. Schulman buys Prime Colorants

By: Frank Esposito

January 7, 2014

The acquisitions keep a-comin’ for materials firm A. Schulman Inc.

Officials with Fairlawn, Ohio-based Schulman announced on Jan. 7 that the firm had paid $15.1 million to acquire Prime Colorants Inc., a maker of custom color and additive concentrates in Franklin, Tenn. The deal is Schulman’s ninth acquisition in less than five years.

“This latest acquisition is part of our ongoing strategy to grow our custom color capabilities in the United States, as well as further transform our U.S. operations from commodity products to a business focused on niche products and services,” Chairman, President and CEO Joseph Gingo said in a news release.

Color products “remain an area of opportunity for [Schulman] in the U.S.,” he added. “The acquisition of Prime will enable us to serve customers better by offering color expertise in an area of the country where we were not previously located.”

Prime employs about 50 at a 60,000-square-foot plant in Franklin. The firm had annual sales of about $12 million in 2013, primarily into the automotive and building and construction markets. In addition to pelletized and powder color materials, Prime will provide Schulman with an entry into the liquid color market, officials said.

Schulman is buying Prime from owner Endre Zongor. Zongor co-founded Prime in 1976 with Ed Honicker. He purchased Honicker's share of the firm in 2006.

The two firms have worked together in the past, with Prime doing toll production of some color concentrate products for Schulman.

In 2011, Prime spent more than $1 million to install three new extrusion lines. The lines increased the firm’s annual production capacity by more than 2.5 million pounds. The investment gave Prime six commercial lines, as well as one lab-scale line.

The firm also installed three injection presses for color-matching work in 2011 and added a new mixing line in 2012.

Schulman most recently bought British compounder and resin distributor Perrite Group for $52 million in September. Earlier in 2013, Schulman had purchased Network Polymers Inc. — a compounder/distributor in Akron, Ohio — for about $50 million.

Schulman posted sales of more than $585 million in the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, ended Nov. 30. That’s a jump of 10 percent vs. its first quarter in fiscal 2013. The firm’s first-quarter profit also increased almost 26 percent to $15.3 million.

In fiscal 2013, Schulman posted sales of just over $2.1 billion, up 3 percent vs. fiscal 2012. On Wall Street, Schulman’s per-share stock price was under $26 in late June, but had improved to $35.80 in early trading Jan. 7.