St. Louis-based Harbour Group Ltd., which owns auxiliary machinery maker AEC Inc., announced Dec. 8 that it has invested in a Connecticut company that remanufactures used robots, Plastics Automation Exchange Inc.
Founded in 1996 by Kenneth Heyse, Plastics Automation Exchange had counted as customers two AEC units, AEC/Application Automation and Sterling Inc.'s Sterltech robot business. PAE will continue to operate as an independent company and will serve those AEC units.
PAE is the first company to focus on selling used robots to the plastics industry. The company rebuilds robots, builds end-of-arm tooling and provides downstream automation, programming help and technical service. PAE employs seven in Wallingford, Conn.
A news release announcing the deal says Harbour ``has made an investment'' in Plastics Automation Exchange.
Neither company would say what percentage Harbour acquired, or how much money Harbour has spent.
Bruce Freeman, president of the AEC Sterling Corp., which includes plastics equipment businesses AEC, Milwaukee-based Sterling and Wabash MPI in Wabash, Ind., said Harbour acquired a ``significant interest'' in the robot firm.
Heyse will remain as PAE president.
Heyse, former general sales manager of Wittmann Robot & Automation Systems Inc., founded Plastics Automation Exchange in 1996, based at the Wallingford facility of used machinery supplier Plastics One Inc. Heyse was majority owner. Plastics One President Robert Risbridger was part owner.
Heyse said Risbridger no longer has an ownership stake in the robot company, which leases the space from Plastics One.
Plastics Automation Exchange will remain at the Plastics One location for now, but could move if it outgrows the building. Heyse said PAE likely would remain in the Wallingford area.
Heyse said the Harbour Group investment will enable the robot company to expand and develop new products.
Sam Fox, Harbour Group's chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcement.
Harbour Group acquired AEC, in Wood Dale, Ill., in 1995. The following year Harbour bought another auxiliary equipment maker, HydReclaim Corp. in Fenton, Mich.