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Canada's Rotovac pursuing growth under new owner

By: Michael Lauzon

January 22, 2014

Rotovac Group Inc. is reviving formerly bankrupt Ontario plastics businesses under a new CEO.

Alan Crossley is taking the helm of rotational molding and vacuum forming operations that were sold out of bankrupty to Rotovac in March 2013. The businesses were part of NS Technologies Group Inc., of Milton, Ontario, which went bankrupt about a year earlier.

NS Technologies was on an expansion spree in 2008 to 2011, acquiring rotomolding, vacuum forming, injection molding and extrusion businesses in the Toronto area. Its majority shareholder, New Solutions Financial Corp. of Mississauga, Ontario, sought bankruptcy protection in early 2012, a move that eventually led to NS Technologies' demise.

Rotovac, owned by Crossley and two other investors, bought NS Technologies' rotomolding and vacuum forming assets in March 2013. Other NS Technologies processing operations were wound down and assets sold. At its height in 2011, NS Technologies owned eight operating plastics businesses and had a stake in a film extrusion business that was idle. The company's last acquisition was Shirlon Plastics Co. Inc., a Cambridge, Ontario-based rotational molder, done in spring 2011.

Rotovac has consolidated its purchased assets in Milton. NS Technologies' former rotomolding assets were located in Milton, Cambridge, Ontario, Lindsay, Ontario, and Guelph, Ontario. Thermoforming assets were in Milton and Cobourg, Ontario.

The company has four vacuum thermoformers, the largest capable of processing sheet 6 feet by 11 feet. It also has four Ferry rotational molders.

Crossley said in a phone interview that Rotovac will concentrate on core areas of landscaping products, recreational equipment, transportation and electronics.

"[NS Technologies] tried to be all things to all people," Crossley explained. "We want to get more focused."

Crossley said Rotovac, formed for the purpose of acquiring NS Technologies assets, will pursue aggressive growth by emphasizing quality. It employs about 35.

"The plant being located in Milton, Ontario, puts us in the middle of Canada's largest market and provides great access to U.S.-based customers," Crossley explained. Milton is about 20 miles west of Toronto.

Crossley has an extensive management background in distribution, light manufacturing and processing. One of his career highlights was to set up an Ontario-wide distribution network for lubricants made by Imperial Oil Ltd., a Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp.

New Solutions invested about C$212 million ($193.6 million) in various businesses as of the end of 2011. Funds invested were obtained from a wide range of investors, many of them small, and its bankruptcy was a messy affair with a host of creditors and several subsidiaries. New Solutions promised higher-than-average returns on risky investments, according to a 2013 investigation by the Ontario Securities Commission. It owned 80 percent of NS Technologies and had stakes in entertainment companies, frozen food and other ventures.

NS Technologies brands Urban Images, Custom Vacform Components and Shirlon Plastics were acquired by Rotovac.