CDF Corp. of Plymouth, Mass., has expanded its plastic industrial liner business by acquiring West Coast competitor Cal-Formed Plastics Co. The July 29 sale comprises the molds, inventory, customer list and trade names for Cal-Formed's heavy-gauge thermoformed polyethylene liners and lids for steel drums and pails used to store chemicals, adhesives, paint and food. Terms were not disclosed.
For Los Angeles-based Cal-Formed, the proprietary product lines contributed only 10-12 percent to its $3.7 million in thermoforming sales for 1995, said Steven Greitzer, president and owner. Custom jobs make up the bulk of the firm's sales, though in 1970, when Greitzer bought Cal-Formed, industrial liners were its main business. Even then, he knew the competition among liner makers would get tougher; so, he steered the company toward custom thermoforming, he said. Today a few competitors vie for the liner business: CDF is an aggressive marketer and a major player, Greitzer said.
For the most part, Cal-Formed's thermoformed product lines duplicate what CDF already offers, but gaining the company's West Coast customer base gives CDF a much greater reach, said Eric Jakobowicz, CDF's national sales manager. The customer list also includes some Midwest clients, according to Greitzer.
The buy marks CDF's second expansion this year. In May, it bought an extrusion blow molding machine from Sonoco Products Co. of Hartsville, S.C., and began blow molding drum inserts.
Mainly CDF supplies liners for 55-gallon steel drums used to store chemicals, petroleum, adhesives, paint and pharmaceuticals, ``industries where you have difficult ladings to dispose of,'' Jakobowicz said. The liners keep the drums clean so they can be reused.
Also at Plymouth, the company manufactures heat-sealed liners for various applications, including a hot-fill liner made from blown polypropylene film, and a chemical-resistant liner made from coextruded, multilayer film using a nylon barrier. Flexible heat-sealed liners - round-bottomed bags, which eliminate seams and folds that can trap residue - are often used to line plastic barrels, Jakobowicz said. It also makes drum and pail covers and dust caps.
Unlike Cal-Formed, industrial liners and lids are CDF's sole focus, he said.
This year CDF expanded its product offerings with liners for pressure tanks used for mixing paint in the automotive industry. Currently it is looking into entering the market for intermediate bulk containers, storage totes that hold up to 200 gallons.
Greitzer called the companies ``friendly competitors.'' Several years ago he said he talked to CDF owners about custom forming their products on the West Coast, but that deal never jelled. Four months ago, he made the offer again: That is when CDF said it wanted to buy Cal-Formed's liner business.
``We put some numbers together based on our sales and all that,'' he said.
Cal-Formed will not downsize its Los Angeles work force because of the sale, Greitzer said. Losing the liners frees up time and capacity for its 15 vacuum formers and 40 employees to do more custom work. Earlier this year, Greitzer-through his holding company, Camden Industries Inc.-bought Foster Grant Corp.'s sunglasses display business in Commerce, Calif., and renamed it Integra Display Group. The largest piece of Integra's business is still sunglasses displays - though not for Foster Grant. The displays are largely plastic, and sister firm Cal-Formed thermoforms a good bit of it, he said. Injection molded parts are outsourced.
Displays are an important market for Cal-Formed, but no market dominates sales, he said.