Five years after purchasing Ripon, Wis.-based Creative Forming Inc., Wellman Inc. has sold the thermoforming and sheet extrusion subsidiary.
M&I Capital Markets Group Inc. of Milwaukee and a group of Creative Forming managers purchased CFI for an undisclosed amount. The sale was completed Dec. 30.
M&I Capital Markets had sold CFI to Wellman in 1992.
``The focus of our group is on the plastic and packaging industry sector,'' said M&I vice president Tom Smith. ``We're very familiar with Creative Forming and believe it has good industry dynamics and is a good platform for growth.''
Smith expects to grow the firm and did not speculate on restructuring.
``CFI was an extremely small part of Wellman,'' said Jill Bongiovanni, Wellman investor relations manager. ``As a result, it was not a very significant focus for us. We're expanding our other, bigger businesses through management time and capital. Other owners may be more willing to commit the time and capital to CFI.''
CFI reported having 170 employees and operating 13 thermoforming lines in Plastics News' 1997 North American listing of thermoformers. With thermoforming sales of $30 million, the company ranked No. 27.
Bongiovanni said the unit accounted for 2-3 percent of Wellman's total sales in the past few years. Wellman reported 1996 sales of nearly $1.1 billion.
Wellman, based in Shrewsbury, N.J., said it will focus on and expand its core businesses — polyester fiber and PET resin. Wellman claims to be the world's largest PET recycler, and about 40 percent of the company's polyester fiber production is made from recycled materials.
Creative Forming extrudes sheet and thermoforms packages for the food, medical, household, personal-care, display, electrical, lawn and garden and consumer product markets.
It uses primarily virgin and recycled PET, and some polystyrene and PVC. Wellman's Day Products subsidiary supplied much of Creative Forming's post-consumer PET feedstock.
``There's no reason why we should not continue that [relationship],'' Bongiovanni said.
Wellman is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.