Witco Corp. exited the plastic and rubber battery case market March 24 by selling its battery parts division to Connor Corp. of Fort Wayne, Ind. Connor acquired the Richardson Battery Parts Division, which had sales of about $50 million last year, for an undisclosed amount of cash. Included in the sale were a 149,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Philadelphia, Miss., and sales offices in Reading, Pa., and City of Industry, Calif.
Connor is leasing the division's other manufacturing facility in Indianapolis, which has 250,000 square feet of space. Carl Soderlind, Witco's senior vice president, said Witco might want the Indianapolis facility back for another, undisclosed purpose in the long term.
The Mississippi plant injection molds polypropylene auto battery cases. Indianapolis molds PP and rubber battery cases. The company has 85 plastic injection molding presses and posted plastic case sales of $48.9 million last year, according to company officials.
Witco sold the 450-employee division because it was not among its core businesses inoleochemicals, surfactants, plastics additives, resins and petroleum specialties. Its Concarb carbon black division is for sale. Witco's sales last year were about $2.2 billion.
The acquisition boosts Connor's sales to about $60 million annually, a Connor spokesman estimated. Connor, with the addition of Witco, now has more than 100 plastic injection presses with clamping forces of 50-800 tons, more than 100 rubber molding presses, and about 560 employees, he said. The spokesman claimed Witco had more than half of the U.S. auto battery aftermarket.
Connor will retain the Richardson name for the division. The deal also included rubber processing machinery in Mexico that an undisclosed firm used to toll produce rubber battery components for Witco. Connor will move the rubber equipment to a leased facility in Fort Wayne to establish a new division called Rubber Technologies.
Connor's other businesses are Jecto Plastics, a custom injection molder in New Haven, Ind., and Acro Products, a custom rubber molder in Fort Wayne. The privately held firm changed its name to Connor from Corson Research in March. Its majority shareholder is Charles Wilson.