Growing molder Technimark jumps into health care

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Technimark LLC Technimark LLC recently doubled the space of plants in China and Germany and opened in Mexico as part of its global growth plans.
Pritzker Group J.B. Pritzker

Technimark LLC has long prided itself on being an innovative company not afraid to embrace new technology to help the company grow.

And now, more than a year after Pritzker Group invested in the injection molding firm, it’s more of the same as the company is pushing into the health care field for the first time.

“Our goal here is, frankly, to build a world-class business, a multibillion-dollar business and the opportunity to do it with quality management,” said J.B. Pritzker, who heads Pritzker Group with his brother, Tony.

The Pritzker brothers brought some deep pockets and a well-known name with them when they purchased a majority of Technimark in April 2014.

Their Chicago-based family is one of the richest in the world, and J.B. and Tony use Pritzker Group as their private investment vehicle. With no other investors, they can pick and choose what they like. And they certainly like Technimark.

“There are a lot of different reasons why we want to be in the plastics business. One thing is packaging is become a very big deal,” Tony Pritzker said.

“You really have to have the technical skill. It’s something that has to be attractive to the customer. There’s a lot of skill in being able to do it and do it with quality and do it with great design. That’s attractive to us,” he said.

For Technimark, teaming with the Pritzkers allowed the company access to capital to continue to expand.

“Technimark, we’ve been growing very fast in consumer packaging for the past 15 years, and the way we’ve been able to grow is taking share and using innovation and new technology to make our customers’ products better,” said Technimark CEO Brad Wellington, son of company founder Don Wellington. His family retains a minority stake in the firm.

Pritzker Group Tony Pritzker

With an appetite to continue to grow, the Asheboro, N.C.-based company has identified health care as a new area of interest.

“It’s obviously a fast-growing market. It’s one that fits well with our global strategy,” Wellington said. “We wanted to diversify our business, get into medical to continue to grow at a fast rate organically. Because the bigger you get, the harder it is to create meaningful growth on a larger base. That’s why we picked medical.

“It’s a good fit for what we offer in terms of technology and a large scale and a global presence,” Wellington said.

Jumping into a new market is a bit of a chicken-or-egg proposition, and Pritzkers’ financial backing helps lay the groundwork for entry.

“If you look at what we can do as a long-term investor to help Brad and Technimark get into medical products, you can’t land your first couple customers and then build the plant,” Tony Pritzker said. “You have to build the plant first, show them you can do it. And then you get to land the customers.”

Plastics, for the Pritzker Group, is an attractive investment thanks to the growing middle class around the world. More people with more income means more consumption of plastics.

Global brands also are increasingly wanting to consolidate their packaging supplier base. And that provides opportunities for Technimark to grow, the men said.

“I really do think that the base business at Technimark is one that just allows us to go everywhere in the world, grow with our customers, literally to build factories near our customers to help serve them and then to serve the surrounding potential customers that we don’t already have,” J.B. Pritzker said.

“Every continent in the world has opportunities for us and we intend to take advantage,” he said.

Along with eying new markets, the company recently has doubled the size of plants in Suzhou, China, and Aachen, Germany, while also opening a new location in Silao, Mexico.

“Our goal is not to pull money out of the business, but rather to reinvest the money and build something globally, and that’s what we’re doing,” J.B. Pritzker said.

Michael Nelson is an investment partner with Pritzker Group and in charge of growing the company’s manufactured products and packaging holdings. But company valuations are rich these days. “We’re being very selective with acquisition opportunities right now because it is such a frothy valuation market,” he said. “So the Technimark team is primarily focused on organic growth opportunities and has a significant global pipeline that they are executing on.

“That being said, it is also a great time because there’s lots of valuable properties in the market. And where an acquisition would better serve our customer through a new technology or a new geographic presence, we would look at it,” Nelson said. “We’re being selective.”

While not in plastics, Pritzker Group this year also purchased LBP Manufacturing Inc. of Cicero, Ill., which is primarily involved in paper-based packaging, and PLZ Aeroscience of Chicago, an aerosol can company. “We’re very focused on packaging, and plastics play a huge role,” Tony Pritzker said.