Two former executives of Motor Wheel Corp. have acquired the company's Luckey, Ohio, urethane molding facility, averting an imminent shutdown of the plant and saving 50 jobs. The deal, completed May 15 for an undisclosed amount, transfers the assets of the Luckey plant and technology rights for urethane processing to a newly formed company called Uretech International Inc.
Uretech was formed by Scott L. Murray, former manufacturing director for the automotive division of Motor Wheel, and Donald R. Bates, former manager of the Luckey plant.
Under the new corporate structure, Murray becomes chief executive officer of Uretech.
Bates takes the title of president.
The buyout was aided by the efforts of state and local politicians, economic development officials and area bankers. The plant is located about 10 miles south of Toledo.
A key element of the deal was a new contract negotiated with the United Rubber Workers union in April. With one year remaining on a three-year contract, the company and URW Lo-cal 861 agreed to a new, three-year agreement which reduced the wage and benefit package for hourly workers, said URW Local President Gail G. Adler.
But, as Uretech grows, the union is hoping its members will improve their wages and benefits, Adler said.
If a new contract had not been put in effect, Adler said the management buyout would have stalled and Motor Wheel would have shut the plant by July.
``All of us would have been out the door,'' she said.
The plant is equipped with two high-volume production lines, each with a dedicated resin compounding line, and four smaller molding cells for batch work. Currently, only one of the high-volume lines is in production. Plant employment at peak capacity would be about 200, Bates said.
The main product at the Luckey plant has been the Polycast urethane wheel, a steel wheel which is inserted into a mold and coated with plastic. Bates said the patented process was developed by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which owned Motor Wheel until spinning it off in a 1987 management buyout. Uretech now has an exclusive worldwide license for the Polycast technology owned by Motor Wheel, Bates said.
Uretech will continue to supply Motor Wheel, based in Oke-mos, Mich., with the Polycast wheels which are purchased by a number of U.S. and Japanese-owned automakers. Uretech also may expand the market by selling directly to new automotive customers, Bates said.
Uretech will continue to supply Motor Wheel with painted automobile brake components, part of the existing product mix at the Luckey plant.
The two main urethane production lines at Luckey are capable of molding 2.5 million Polycast wheels per year, Bates said. The lines, however, can be converted to a variety of molding operations. Uretech hopes to develop automotive products for applications in noise dampening and impact cushioning.
Uretech forecasts sales of $5 million in its first year. It projects it will double that volume within four years.