EnviroWorks Inc. has acquired Rubbermaid Inc.'s plastic planter business, for undisclosed terms. The sale was part of Rubbermaid's plan, announced in December, to align its facilities, operations and product lines with global growth, said spokeswoman Lorrie Crum. Though successful, the planter business, with less than $10 million in sales, held no opportunities for expansion or innovation for the public company, she said in a July 15 telephone interview.
For privately held Enviro-Works, ``it is clearly an opportunity to win the No. 1 position in the marketplace,'' Crum said.
The deal comprises the molds and customer list for Rubber-maid's plastic planters, but does not include any molding equipment, she said. Nor will the sale affect any jobs at the Wooster, Ohio-based company, since molding of those products was not done in-house, she added.
At Apopka, outside Orlando, Fla., EnviroWorks runs ``several dozen presses'' to injection mold mostly polyethylene, and some polypropylene, flowerpots and planters for its Planterra line, said Vic Taglia, the company's chief financial officer. Products include round flowerpots ranging in diameter from 2-24 inches, and planter boxes.
Despite some overlap, the Rubbermaid planters generally will complement the Planterra line, adding some bigger sizes, such as Italian- and Grecian-style urns.
With the new business, plastic planters will make up roughly two-thirds of EnviroWorks' total sales, which Taglia would not disclose.
Most of Rubbermaid's planters are injection molded, though they include some rotational molded and blow molded containers, Taglia said. Rubbermaid had been outsourcing manufacturing, though Crum would not identify the molders.
EnviroWorks also will subcontract manufacturing for the rotomolded and blow molded planters, but may bring the injection molded lines in-house, Taglia said.
The company employs a core work force of about 200, but during peak seasons employment can rise to as many as 500 workers, he said.
Taglia claims that the Rubber-maid business vaults Enviro-Works into the top spot among plastic planter makers in North America, though the company vies for that position with Duraco Products Inc., an employee-owned injection molder of PP planters and plastic accessories in Streamwood, Ill. Duraco's president and chief executive, John Licht, was unavailable for comment.
Rubbermaid ranked as the third- or fourth-largest manufacturer in that segment, according to Crum.
The planters were part of Rubbermaid's Specialty Products Division, or seasonal business, which manufactures such items as sport-truck bed boxes, fuel containers, winter sleds and outdoor sheds - a brand-new product line that already brings in at least $10 million in sales, according to Crum. The planters did not offer the same opportunity for long-term growth as those products.
EnviroWorks intends to keep growing its planter business, Taglia said.
``We're anxious to bring these products to our customers,'' he said. ``As the baby-boom generation matures, they have more leisure time. One of the things that is becoming more and more popular is gardening.''
The company will showcase its entire product line in August at the National Hardware Show in Chicago, he said.
Beside planters, EnviroWorks makes two other proprietary product lines: Solartex sun- and wind-screen fabrics; and Enviroshade shade houses - easy-to-assemble outdoor tent kits consisting of knitted PE fabric and aluminum poles. The company extrudes both PE and PP, and knits them into fabric for the houses and screens at Apopka, he said. Its products are sold directly to retail stores, or through distributors.
Jim Morley is EnviroWorks' president and chief executive officer.
The sale comes as no surprise to Rubbermaid planter customers, who were apprised of plans to sell the business months ago, Crum said, noting that not all prospective buyers were capable, as EnviroWorks was, of providing a seamless transition.
``July is a slow month'' for the planter business, Taglia said, making it an ideal time to seal a deal and incorporate new product lines.