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Investment firm buys stake in industrial blow molder

By: Frank Antosiewicz

March 3, 2014

The Plastics Group Inc., a blow molder based in Willowbrook, Ill., is working with a new investor — private investment firm Watermill Group — and is looking to expand its design and engineering capabilities.

The companies announced the deal March 3.

“We’re definitely excited,” said Brian Beth, president and CEO of Plastics Group, in a telephone interview.

The company is ranked 29th in the most recent Plastics News survey of North American blow molders, with sales of $90 million.

"We’re now expanding our design and engineering services so we can evolve into an engineering solutions provider of complex plastics,” he said.

Beth would not elaborate on the terms of the deal, but noted that TPG’s management team would remain intact and that it would enable the company to grow. TPG has expanded over the past decade and has a large number of blow molding machines with 50-100 large shot capacity.

The Plastics Group has plants in Willowbrook and in Fremont, Ohio. Overall, it has 312 employees.

Lexington, Mass.-based Watermill bought its share of TPG from Chicago Growth Partners and Merritt Capital Partners, both which had invested in TPG over the past 14 years.

Beth said he has talked with Watermill about beefing up its engineering capabilities and expanding geographically.

TPG has a history of helping companies convert metal components to lighter plastic component. Its products range from bed frames and portable toilets to fuel tanks from lawn tractors and generators. It uses nanotechnology to make gas containers impermeable.

Watermill has invested in companies over the past three decades.