Brunswick Corp., a manufacturer of recreational products based in Lake Forest, Ill., plans to buy the biggest name in plastic ice chest and beverage coolers: Igloo Products Corp. of Houston. When the $154 million cash deal closes early next year, Brunswick will own Igloo's plastic product lines, two plants - in Houston and nearby Katy, Texas - and about 140 pieces of processing equipment for blow molding, injection molding and vacuum forming plastics.
The buy comes just two months after Brunswick sealed a $212 million deal with Roadmaster Industries Inc. that gave it Roadmaster's line of injection molded plastic sleds and toboggans, made in Olney, Ill. Brunswick makes a range of other outdoor recreational products, from fishing reels to pleasure boats, but only the spin-cast fishing reels, made at its Zebco Division in Tulsa, Okla., contain plastic parts that are injection molded in-house. That operation uses ABS, polystyrene and nylon, according to Jim Dawson, who oversees Zebco as president of Brunswick's Outdoor Recreation Group, formed in April. Like Roadmaster, Igloo will come under that group.
Igloo brings Brunswick roughly $150 million in annual sales -the lion's share in plastics, according to Lee Stranathan, Igloo's vice president of marketing. A small piece of business belongs to metal water coolers, insulated with polyurethane foam.
Stranathan said Igloo's primary investor, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., had seen an opportunity to harvest its investment by selling the firm. Igloo management, including Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Godshall, owns a minority interest in the firm.
``We bring technical expertise in plastics'' to Brunswick, Stranathan said. ``We're very much a new-product company and that was very attractive to them. I think it will be an opportunity to help each other in a variety of ways.''
He added that both companies own brands that are well-known in recreational markets.
Dawson noted that coolers and ice chests go hand in hand with Brunswick's outdoor sports products, such as camping equipment, boats and bicycles. He and Stranathan also noted that the firms share a common distribution system, selling their products in retail stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart.
At its Texas plants, Igloo blow molds the outer shells of its ice chests and coolers from polyethylene, according to Harry Marcionetti, senior vice president of operations. Other plastic components include injection molded polypropylene handles, high- impact PS liners and PU foam insulation.
Together the plants have a core work force of about 700, but ramp up to twice that number during Igloo's peak manufacturing season, from now until June. 1997 products hit store shelves in the spring. Its first plastic cooler came out in 1962.
In Tulsa, Brunswick has about 12 injection presses, with clamping forces of 75-300 tons, making parts for Zebco fishing reels. In Olney, it also blow molds training wheels and other miscellaneous parts for bicycles, a former Roadmaster business.
Brunswick, a public company, reported 1995 sales of $3 billion.