Waddington plc of Leeds, England, is continuing its acquisition spree in the United States.
In an expansion of its pharmaceutical packaging business, Waddington acquired blow molder Trans Container Corp. of Upland, Calif., for $33 million on Jan. 30. In another expansion, Waddington is acquiring the assets of Lermer Packaging Corp. of Garwood, N.J., for $4 million-$5 million.
The Trans Container deal adds West Coast production capacity to complement East Coast operations Waddington has developed in recent years. Both Trans Container and Lermer will report to the Waddington IP Jaycare division, based in Carlstadt, N.J., and headed by President Douglas Ellis.
The division had sales of $25 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1997. Acquisitions will boost total sales to a rate of more than $60 million per year. Waddington plc has annual sales of about $550 million.
Both Waddington IP Jaycare and Trans Container design, develop and produce plastic containers and closures for the health-care market's vitamin, pharmaceutical and over-the-counter segments.
Trans Container has manufacturing facilities in Upland and Salt Lake City. Ellis said in a telephone interview that Waddington plans to add stretch blow molding to Trans Container's existing capabilities for injection blow molding and injection molding.
Trans Container had an operating profit of $4.5 million on sales of about $17 million, according to a London news report. Trans Container's fiscal year ends Aug. 31.
Waddington will add products at, and transfer technologies to, the Trans Container sites. The Waddington Jaycare division is the pharmaceutical packaging unit in the United Kingdom.
Separately on Feb. 2, Waddington submitted a winning bid to purchase the Lermer assets that have been under supervision of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Trenton, N.J., since 1996. Closing and pinpointing the exact cost should occur in mid-February.
The Lermer business ``fits with [our] Santa Fe acquisition two months ago,'' Ellis said.
Herman Lermer formed the company in 1919. The business was a Loral Corp. division when Dan Proctor, now sole owner and president, started working at Lermer Packaging in 1966.
Proctor acquired the producer of plastic vials, straight-wall and double-wall jars from Loral in 1986. ``We were the biggest in our niche,'' Proctor, 73, said in a Feb. 5 telephone interview.
The company was reluctant to raise prices in the face of ``the last resin spike,'' he said. Subsequently, Lermer Packaging filed in June 1996 for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Lermer employs 177 union members and 25 managers and occupies 136,000 square feet, Proctor said. The business operates dozens of injection molding presses with clamping forces of 35-500 tons and provides five-color offset printing, hot-stamp and silk-screen secondary services.
Ellis said that Lermer has annual sales of about $13 million. It is ``our expectation to remain in Garwood for a period of time,'' he said. Waddington will evaluate linking the Lermer operation with its Santa Fe line, which the firm bought in late October from Kerr Group Inc. of Lancaster, Pa.
Waddington moved some Santa Fe-related equipment from Bowling Green, Ky., to Waddington's facility in Saddle Brook, N.J., and ramped up production during December.
Ellis characterized the opportunities to buy Lermer and Santa Fe as ``bolts of lightning.'' In contrast, negotiations with Trans Container extended over several months.
Both Lermer and Santa Fe added to the buyer's inventory of tooling and equipment, creating some redundancies. Waddington is being selective about which machines to use, relocate, sell or scrap.
Waddington IP Jaycare employs about 230 and operates manufacturing and warehousing facilities in Saddle Brook and Moonachie, N.J., in addition to its Carlstadt corporate facility and warehouse. The sites occupy a total of 280,000 square feet. Waddington formed the division following its 1995 acquisition of IP Container Corp., then of Paterson, N.J.
Separately in the United States, Waddington plc operates a large food packaging group based in Covington, Ky. Waddington North America Inc. has operations in Chelmsford, Mass.; City of Industry, Calif.; Longview and Lancaster, Texas; and Florence, Ky.