Rubber processor Acadia Elastomers Corp. diversified into thermoplastics with the Feb. 17 acquisition of Webster Plastics Inc. of Fairport, N.Y., a Rochester suburb.
Acadia made the deal to add plastics to its rubber processes, and to take advantage of vertical integration opportunities, according to Bill Schumann, Acadia vice president of sales and marketing. Acadia could mold rubber seals on some of Webster's automotive parts, he cited as an example of integration.
Roanoke, Va.-based Acadia runs seven manufacturing plants in the United States and Canada and has annual sales of about $100 million, Schumann said in a telephone interview. Webster operates 46 presses with clamping forces as large as 1,000 tons in a new, 75,000-square-foot facility. The company formerly was in nearby Webster, another Rochester suburb. The company has annual sales of about $25 million.
Schumann said Webster's molding of polyphenylene sulfide accumulator pistons for automatic transmissions is an example of how Acadia can add value by molding rubber seals to the parts. Webster President Vern DeWitt said his firm introduced the pistons to General Motors Corp. vehicles in 1995 after 31/2 years of development. The PPS pistons replaced die-cast, machined metal.
DeWitt said his firm mainly molds engineering resins into components such as gears, motor end-covers and wiper pivot housings. ITT Automotive is its largest customer and automotive parts account for about 60 percent of the QS 9000-registered company's sales. Business machines, consumer goods and industrial products are other chief markets. It offers design, engineering and mold-building services.
Bunzl plc sold Webster because it was not a strategic business, according to DeWitt. Webster grew rapidly after Bunzl acquired it in 1989 and the firm was reaching the point where it needed to be bigger by acquisition. But Bunzl focused on distribution of plastic and paper products and it agreed to let DeWitt find a strategic partner. Acadia provided a close fit in manufacturing, strategic direction and goals, he said.
Acadia's automotive division, focused on sealing technologies, represents 60 percent of sales. Its industrial division supplies business machine and other markets. Schumann said Acadia's origins go back to the turn of the century and it has supplied auto parts since the 1930s. It is owned by management and private investors.