By: Rachel Abbey McCafferty
CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS
January 7, 2014
Fairlawn, Ohio-based A. Schulman Inc. has named James Irwin its senior director of corporate business development, a newly created position in which he'll be responsible for the plastic resins supplier's mergers, acquisitions and divestitures across the globe.
"As we continue to pursue our strategy to become a premier global specialty chemicals company, identifying and executing unique market opportunities and joint ventures has been and will continue to be vital to our success," Joe Gingo, A. Schulman's chairman, president and CEO, said in a news release.
Acquisitions long have been a vital part of the strategy at A. Schulman; Gingo said in his six years as CEO, A. Schulman has completed seven acquisitions and two joint ventures. He views such deals as a "critical" part of the company's growth strategy, especially in the less-than-robust economy. Internal growth is harder to come by, Gingo said in a Jan. 6 phone interview, and he expects growth via acquisition to continue with Irwin's hiring.
"I have no intention of letting up," Gingo said.
In calendar year 2013, the company made two acquisitions: Network Polymers Inc., an Akron, Ohio-based provider of thermoplastic materials, and Perrite Group, a global thermoplastic compounding company. The acquisitions will be officially counted in A. Schulman's 2014 fiscal year, which began at the start of September. A. Schulman also made an unsuccessful, unsolicited bid for specialty chemicals maker Ferro Corp. of Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
Gingo said he wanted someone with Mr. Irwin's experience to seek out and screen opportunities. Since A. Schulman has been buying businesses in recent years, more private and public companies have been approaching it, he said. He found that many owners of private companies wanted to sell to a company that would maintain operations, rather than consolidate them.
"The pipeline right now is so active," Gingo said, noting that he had been spending a lot of his own time on that part of the business.
Irwin joins A. Schulman from Cleveland-based iron ore and metallurgical coal producer Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. In his time there, Irwin served in a variety of merger, acquisition and business development roles, including senior director — corporate development and M&A, and led 15 acquisition and divestiture transactions, A. Schulman said in the news release. Before joining Cliffs, Irwin was an M&A advisor and investment banker at KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc.
Irwin officially started with A. Schulman on Jan. 1.