Wentworth Mould & Die Co. Ltd. is about to purchase toolmaking companies in both Poland and the United Kingdom as part of a major global expansion to make blow molds around the globe.
The Hamilton, Ontario-based toolmaker, which considers itself the world's largest independent producer of blow molds, plans to sign a purchase agreement by the end of November to buy ZPNP, a tooling company near Lublin, Poland.
Wentworth will spend $3 million to buy the company and purchase new equipment, said Wentworth President and majority owner Walter Kuskowski.
ZPNP, which employs 110, recorded about $4 million in 1996 sales, Kuskowski said. The company makes injection molds for automotive trim applications from a 50,000-square-foot plant in central Poland.
Wentworth plans to install equipment to make blow molds for the Polish automotive and packaging markets. In addition, Canadian workers will be trained in blow mold-making skills and sent to the plant, Kuskowski said.
Meanwhile, in Western Europe, Wentworth is negotiating to buy an unspecified British toolmaker that makes blow molds for packaging companies, Kuskowski said. Negotiations should be completed by the end of the year. Wentworth plans to start operations there by June 1998, he added.
Both acquisitions would continue the steep ascent of the acquisition-minded company. When Kuskowski — a Polish immigrant — purchased the small toolmaking company in 1991, sales were close to $2.2 million. This year, Wentworth expects to break the $40 million mark, placing it among the top ranks of toolmakers in annual sales.
Kuskowski would like to stretch that sales figures to $100 million by the turn of the century. Global expansion could ignite that sales leap, both through acquisition and by developing existing facilities, he said.
``It's very important to say to our customers that we've got local support,'' said Kuskowski, whose company now exports about 30 percent of its molds to Europe and Asia. ``That way, we can react quickly and serve our customers by making fast deliveries and rapid mold adjustments. It's much better than flying molds across the ocean.''
One of Wentworth's core values is to think and act globally, Kuskowski said. About 80 percent of the company's 250 employees have come from other countries. The multicultural shop includes employees from Thailand, India, Germany and Slovakia, as well as from Kuskowski's native Poland.
Kuskowski spent 22 years with General Electric Co. in Ontario before purchasing his first blow mold shop, North Ontario Mould Co. of Barrie, Ontario, in 1991. The company then bought injection and compression molder Amtech East Inc. of Pawcatuck, Conn., in late 1991 and turned it into a blow mold shop.
Wentworth was acquired in 1995. That sale, which Kuskowski calls the ``real locomotive'' spiking the company's growth, included a 50,000-square-foot plant that makes both PET and extrusion blow molds and 100 employees. Sales at Wentworth alone have grown from about $12.8 million in 1995 to an expected $18 million this year.
This year, the company began to look beyond blow molds. In May, Kuskowski and his partners bought injection toolmaker Accurate Mould Co. Ltd. and boring and grinding company J.E.G. Services Co. Ltd., both of Rexdale, Ontario. Accurate specializes in preformed, molded cups and closures for the packaging industry. The company, which has 80 people, works from a 48,000-square-foot facility.
Together, the two companies expect to record annual sales of $12 million to $14 million. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
The new slate of North American companies now works under the umbrella name Wentworth Technologies Group. The company conducts about 80 percent of its business in the packaging industry, where it makes molds for PET bottles, extruded plastic containers, pails, lids, polyethylene drums and other products.
The firm also serves the automotive sector, where Wentworth produces tools for trim and bumper parts, and in sporting goods. Together, the companies use close to 50 computer numerically controlled machining centers and more than 30 computer-aided design and manufacturing stations.
European expansion is next, and delivery is the driving force, said Charles Carey, vice president of sales for Wentworth.
``As far as we know, few mold shops in Europe have the capability to make as many molds as quickly we can,'' said Carey, whose shop has delivered as many as 350 molds in 12-14 weeks for a single program. ``There's a growing demand worldwide for fast delivery. If our customers can be first on the market with a new product, they have it made.''
Wentworth has a fast-to-market mold team in-house that works exclusively on projects that require quick lead times. The ``firemen,'' as Carey called them, can deliver molds in two-three weeks.
The group sometimes uses standard mold blocks stockpiled at Wentworth that already have a water line system and cooling and mounting linkages cut in advance. All the company must do is cut the cavity from the premanufactured mold into the product shape, Carey said.
The new plant in Poland will help get tools quickly in the hands of carmakers. Among the plant's current customers — all of which have facilities in eastern Europe — are General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Daewoo Motor Co. Ltd. of Korea.
Wentworth also is looking to Asia for new opportunities. Wentworth plans to open a small sales and service center in Singapore by the end of 1998, Kuskowski said.