Chinet Co., the Waterville, Maine-based unit of Royal Packaging Industries Van Leer NV, has secured its first U.S. plastics operation with the purchase of Rhode Island thermoformer Nyman Manufacturing Co., company officials said Oct. 1.
Founded more than 60 years ago, Nyman manufactures plastic dinnerware and paper cups in East Providence. The privately held company ranked 25th in Plastics News' 1997 survey of North American thermoformers, with related sales of $34.7 million.
Keith Johnson, Nyman's president and chief executive officer, declined to disclose the financial details of the deal in a telephone interview Oct. 2. But he said the sale was a way for the family-owned business to accelerate growth by taking advantage of the larger resouce base Van Leer can provide.
``Today in the plastics business, it's not unusual to spend $2 million to $5 million to kick off a new product,'' Johnson said.
Van Leer, based in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, has annual sales of $2.5 billion.
Although a Van Leer spokesman also declined in a prepared statement to release terms of the deal, he did say it is customary in the sector to pay 50-80 percent of annual sales. Including both paper and thermoformed plastic products, Nyman reported 1996 sales of $52 million, indicating the deal probably is valued at $26 million to $42 million.
Johnson, who will remain at Nyman as vice president and general manager, said it is too soon to talk about specific upcoming operating changes. However, he indicated the company plans to extend its use of technology and profit from the parent company's sales and marketing resources.
``I see only positive things from this combination,'' Johnson said.
He noted that Nyman has developed a new, multilayer plastic tableware product that will require additional resources to launch. In a move related to that, Johnson said the company installed a new, custom-designed Davis-Standard trilayer extruder during the past month. The equipment was developed from research conducted by Nyman, Davis-Standard Corp. of Pawcatuck, Conn., and an unnamed resin supplier, he said.
Johnson characterized the reaction of Nyman's 400 employees to the sale as ``very favorable.'' While Nyman has been a growing and profitable firm, workers understood that additional resources were necessary for it to advance from its status as a smaller, family-owned enterprise, he added.
Chinet's executive vice president of the Foodservice Business unit, Charles Woodward, said the Nyman acquisition is intended to ``get at the potential for growth'' by bringing the product ranges of the two companies together, particularly in high-impact plastic tableware products.
The firm's five U.S. manufacturing facilities makes paper and molded fiber products, mainly for the dinnerware and food-service markets. A plant in Mexico produces disposable plastic tableware.
Woodward said it was premature to talk about any changes in the status of either firm. Asked whether the Nyman name would be retained, he said: ``We'll have to evaluate that,'' adding that the brand primarily is known in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, while Chinet has a strong national identity.
Chinet's annual sales are $300 million, Woodward said. It employed 1,500 before buying Nyman.
Houston-based Van Leer Flexibles Inc., another Royal Packaging unit, manufactures plastic film and has annual sales of about $30 million.