LAKE FOREST, ILL. — Tenneco Packaging's U.S. protective packaging empire now stretches coast to coast with its definitive agreement to buy Richter Manufacturing, a company that serves the western United States.
``This geographically completes our entry into protective packaging,'' said Richard Wambold, executive vice president and general manager of specialty and consumer products at Tenneco Packaging.
``Richter makes us absolutely a national company,'' Wambold said in an interview at Tenneco Packaging's headquarters in Lake Forest.
Privately held Richter had 1997 sales of $61 million. Including Richter, Tenneco's global protective packaging business will include more than 40 manufacturing facilities with annual sales of more than $650 million.
Based in Pomona, Calif., Richter manufactures and distributes air-cushioned plastic packaging, padded mailers, cushion pads and polypropylene and polyethylene foam for the electronics, automotive parts, furniture and agricultural packaging industries.
Richter operates three plants, in Pomona and Visalia, Calif., and Kent, Wash., and employs about 325. The company extrudes and fabricates in-house.
The firm had a partnership with Astro-Valcour Inc. of Glens Falls, N.Y., a firm that Tenneco bought last year when it acquired the protective and flexible packaging operations of NV Koninklijke KNP BT of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. AVI makes bubble cushioning, PE and PP foam sheet and planks, paper-based cushioning and other protective packaging for the electronics, appliances and consumer products industries. Its plants were concentrated east of the Mississippi River.
Through internal growth and acquisitions, Tenneco Packaging has doubled its sales since 1994 and shifted its product mix to what it considers less-cyclical and faster-growing market segments.
In 1994, Tenneco Packaging sales were at $2 billion with only 30 percent from specialty and protective products. In 1997, it became a $4 billion business, with nearly 65 percent of its sales from specialty and protective packaging. The firm claims to rank No. 1 or No. 2 in sales in most protective packaging categories both in the United States and in Europe.
``The protective segment of packaging is growing globally at more than 5 percent annually,'' Tenneco Inc. Chief Operating Officer Paul Stecko said in a news release. ``We expect Richter to positively impact our revenues and earnings immediately.''
Some of Richter's customers are Tier 1 suppliers shipping subassemblies to carmakers. Tenneco's Automotive business also had been a customer of Richter, Wambold added.
Tenneco's protective packaging brand names include Astro Foam, MicroFoam, Hexacomb and, in Europe, Jiffy protective packaging products. Tenneco Inc. is a $7 billion global manufacturing company based in Greenwich, Conn., with 50,000 employees worldwide.