Hemscheidt Maschinentechnik Schwerin GmbH & Co. - an injection press maker in the former East Germany that distinguished itself by making machines with retractable tie bars - is bankrupt and has been put up for sale, and HPM Corp. is interested. Hans-Jurgen Lutz, the court- appointed trustee running the company, said he wants to sell Hemscheidt to a company that will keep running the factory in Schwerin, Germany. HPM has expressed interest in buying Hemscheidt, Lutz said.
HPM of Mount Gilead, Ohio, has not formally bid on Hemscheidt ``but we are continuing to look at it with interest,'' said William Flickinger, HPM president and chief executive officer. HPM was purchased earlier this year by Stadco Inc., a Los Angeles manufacturer of tooling and machinery for the aerospace industry.
``When HPM and Stadco merged, we indicated at that time that we were interested in becoming a global player, and we see this as a way to enter the European market,'' Flickinger said.
Lutz also said Schwertberg, Austria-based Engel Vertriebs-gesellschaft mbH has expressed interest in purchasing Hem- scheidt - but an Engel executive said that is not true.
Peter Neumann, Engel's managing director, said he has been in touch with Lutz about a licensing agreement the two companies struck over Hemscheidt's tie-barless technology, which ended a patent dispute that erupted last year at K'95 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Neumann said he asked Lutz to keep him informed about the bankruptcy.
Engel has no interest in buying Hemscheidt, Neumann said.
``There's no actual discussion going on here because we have all the technologies already,'' he said. ``We are very strong in the German market and we have factories very close to these markets. So there is no reason for taking over the activities of Hem-scheidt.''
Engel has made several thousand tie-barless machines since it introduced the technology in 1989.
Lutz said at least two other companies, both German firms - Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH of Munich, Germany, and Mannesmann Demag Kunststoff-technik of Schwaig, Germany - are interested in buying Hem-scheidt's patents.
Hemscheidt filed for bankruptcy in German District Court in Schwerin on July 29.
Hemscheidt makes injection presses with clamping forces of 55-3,527 tons. On the retractable machines, the tie bars pull back during each cycle, giving easy access to the mold area for parts removal by robots. The retractable tie bar machines have two platens.
That feature, plus new machines with no tie bars at all, have allowed Hemscheidt to make inroads in the North American automotive molding market.
The bankruptcy filing has not affected Hemscheidt's U.S. office, in Wixom, Mich., said John Mead, vice president and general manager there. The company continues to issue quotes and deliver machines.
Under communism, 2,500 people worked at the massive Schwerin works making injection presses, extruders, blown film lines and screws. When competitive machines flooded in after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the company's survival was at risk.
The company scaled back to focus on injection molding machines, and laid off all but a few hundred workers. Then in 1991, Alexander Hemscheidt, an industrialist from Wuppertal, Germany, bought the company and changed its name to Hemscheidt Maschinentech-nik.
Lutz said he dismissed Hem-scheidt and several other top executives. Lutz, in an Aug. 30 telephone interview from Schwer-in, credited Hemscheidt with buying the distressed company and keeping it open. But Lutz said the company suffered from mismanagement.
A press release issued by the company said insolvency forced it into bankruptcy.
Alexander Hemscheidt could not be reached for comment. In 1995, he sold off his prior business, coal mining equipment, to focus on the injection press business.
``The company is still being run and we are very confident that there will be a purchase around January or February. That is the present situation. There are quite a number of companies who want to purchase us,'' Lutz said.
Today, Hemscheidt employs about 230 in Schwerin. More layoffs are likely, the company said.
Lutz said he also has been contacted by an Iranian firm, Paykareh Group, about buying the company. But Lutz said he prefers to sell to a European or North American company.
The next court bankruptcy hearing will be Oct. 1.