This month Oneida Molded Plastics Corp. acquired Rostone Corp., a thermoset molder in Lafayette, Ind., from majority owner Chatwins Group Inc. and other, undisclosed investors. The deal gives Oneida's public parent, Reunion Resources Co. of Houston, an even bigger stake in plastics, its chief business since Sept. 14, when it bought Oneida from Chatwins for $3.1 million. Since June, Chatwins, a private investment group in Pittsburgh, has owned roughly 38 percent of Reunion's common stock.
The new company, Oneida Rostone Corp., merges Oneida's thermoplastic injection molding capabilities with Rostone's thermoset operations, which last year saw sales of about $26 million for injection, compression and transfer molding. Oneida, based in Oneida, N.Y., had 1995 sales of roughly $37 million.
Oneida paid Chatwins ``a nominal amount'' for Rostone, according to Robert Wiehl, Oneida's vice president of finance. The firms closed the deal Feb. 2.
The principal sellers also will receive a cash payout based on Rostone's performance levels this year and in 1997, he said in a recent telephone interview. In addition, Oneida has assumed Rostone's debt, which he would not disclose. Oneida's own debt, totaling roughly $10 million in June, included $4.9 million owed to Chatwins.
``We have been crawling out of a debt situation for a number of years,'' said Mark E. Halstead, Oneida's vice president of sales and marketing. ``We've got that all taken care of. Now we're in a public shell where we can grow.''
Oneida, with plants in central New York and Clayton, N.C., has gained Rostone's OEM customer connections, expanding its reach into new geographic regions, Halstead said. Exactly how parent Reunion intends to play on that is not clear. It will consider various options, including putting thermoplastic operations in the Midwest and the Southeast. What is clear is that Reunion wants to get deeper into plastics, and it is looking for more companies to buy that present a good value and a good fit, Halstead said.
``It would be very difficult [to meet our goals for growth] with our present facilities,'' he said.
Rostone serves mainly the automotive and electrical/electronics industries, making parts for Siemens AG, Allen-Bradley Co. Inc. and Square D Co., among others. It also manufactures polyester bulk molding compound and sheet molding compound, roughly 95 percent for in-house use.
During the past several years, Oneida has worked to diversify its markets, Halstead said. In 1994, a single customer provided 45 percent of the molder's business, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Today it does a smattering of molding in many markets, but some of its mainstays are business machines, telecommunications and office equipment. Sister company, Three Rivers Tool Co. in Phoenix, N.Y., provides tooling and molds. It had 1995 sales of $2.5 million. Oneida Rostone employs about 750.
``What we hope to get out of this: We can offer a better value for our customers, whether that is thermoplastics or thermosets,'' Halstead said.
Dave Harrington, president of Oneida Rostone, already was president of both companies before the merger, Halstead said. He is the key managment figure in Reunion's game plan to pursue plastics manufacturing.
Halstead could not say whether Reunion is eyeing another Chatwins investment, Data Packaging Ltd., an injection molder in Mullingar, Ireland. DPL is a joint venture of Chatwins' principal owner, Stanwich Partners Inc. of Stamford, Conn., and the Irish government.
Charles E. Bradley Sr. is chairman and majority shareholder of Chatwins.