PHOENIX — Saranda Corp., a custom injection molder, was purchased by an investor group from Phoenix and Dallas for an undisclosed sum. Saranda, also known as Phoenix Plastics Inc., was founded in 1959 and claims to be the oldest continuously operating custom molder in Arizona. The investor group purchased the company from owners Gary Oakland of Phoenix and Stephen Illes, founder of Unique Plastics in Mission Viejo, Calif.
The Dallas investors are Steve Bartlett, who will serve as chairman; John Lewis, who will serve as a member of the board of directors; and Arthur Hollings-worth, treasurer and vice president for finance. Bartlett, who was mayor of Dallas from 1991-96 and a member of Congress for eight years, in 1976 founded Meridian Products Corp., a Dallas-based custom injection molder. Bartlett remains active with Meridian as its chairman.
Bartlett said his long history in plastics and politics has taught him that there are probably more differences than similarities between the two.
``I'm in full recovery [from politics] now,'' Bartlett said in a telephone interview.
Lewis and Hollingsworth are, respectively, the managing general partner and the managing director of J. Lewis Partners L.P., a Dallas-based investment firm. The firm owns U.S. companies with sales in excess of $130 million. This is the company's first venture into the plastics industry as an investment.
Bartlett said the investor group's goal is to use Saranda as a platform to acquire other plastics companies.
``We now have the financial strength of J. Lewis Partners, but the ownership is spread among the five individuals,'' he said.
Phoenix investors are Bedros Demirdjian, who is now president and chief operating officer; and Ray Zuckerman, vice chairman and director of sales and product engineering. Demirdjian had been serving as president. Zuckerman, who has worked at the Saranda operation in engineering for more than 10 years, also founded Raytech Corp., which provides product engineering and management services for its clients.
Bartlett said he and the other Dallas partners had been looking for a custom molding firm to purchase when they found Saranda through a business broker.
``We were looking for a molder located in a high-growth, engineering manufacturing market,'' he said.
The company's close proximity to the original equipment manufacturers markets in Southern California was also an attractive feature for the investor group. ``We can provide higher quality at a lower cost serving Southern California customers out of Phoenix,'' Bartlett said.
Saranda has 10 injection molding presses, with clamping forces of 30-390 tons, and primarily serves the medical and consumer industries. Two years ago Saranda sold the Yankee Photo Products Inc. proprietary line of photo equipment to a company specializing in that business, Bartlett said.
``However, we are still the custom manufacturer of those products for the owner of that business,'' he said.
Bartlett said the investors plan to expand Saranda ``slightly'' by adding necessary capital equipment, ``but only in response to customer needs.'' He said the equipment is newer and well-maintained, and the company prefers new, technologically up-to-date equipment as a means to serve its customers.