British conglomerate John Waddington plc recently brought another U.S. plastics firm under its public umbrella. Waddington acquired Cups Illustrated Inc., a Lancaster, Texas, injection molder of plastic souvenir cups, Jan. 5 for undisclosed terms, said CI President Tom Swan. Waddington officials confirmed the deal but declined comment.
Being part of Waddington's U.S. plastics family makes sense from a ``growth standpoint,'' Swan said. The cash infusion is helping to foot its expansion, which includes adding its sixth injection press and fourth printer, a Vandam that gives CI capabilities for eight-color printing.
``Neat-looking graphics'' are the cup maker's hallmark, said Lee Ann Woods, director of marketing. Woods. Its customers range from large to little and include beverage makers, such as Pepsi-Cola Co. and Dr Pepper Co., and their bottlers, fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, theme parks, arenas and high schools. IC made 40 million cups last year for a McDonald's Corp. program pairing off National Basketball Association players with Loony Tunes figures.
CI also makes thousands of promotional cups every year for mom and pop stands, filling smaller-sized orders, Woods said. It even has had a couple of international customers.
``The profit margin on these cups is very small,'' she said. ``You have to do a lot of cups to make some money.''
At its Lancaster plant, near Dallas, CI molds the reusable cups in seven sizes, from 12-64 ounces, from high density polyethelene. Lids are injection molded from linear low density PE. Swan would not disclose CI's yearly capacity or sales. It employs 65.
Before CI, Swan's background was in sports promotions; he was in the souvenir T-shirt business when he saw the same market opening up for cups, Woods said. So he and his brother-in-law Bob Benjamin, now CU's chief operating officer, launched their firm in 1984 with one press and a printer.
Under Waddington, CI has autonomy to carry on as before, according to Woods. The public firm, based in Leeds, England, makes plastic and paper packaging, toys and games, and does printing and binding. It is known for creating such games as ``Clue,'' she said.
In July, Plastics News reported that Waddington paid about $30.7 million to buy IP Container Corp., a Paterson, N.J., injection blow molder of containers for the medical and cosmetic markets. Waddington's other U.S. subsidiaries are Hopple Plastics Inc., a thermoformer of trays and packaging in Florence, Ky.; thermoformer Carthage Cup Co. of Carthage, Texas, which makes packaging and foam cups; Comet Products Inc., an injection molder of plastic cups and food-service items in Chelmsford, Mass., and its subsidiary, Comet California Cutlery Inc.