Cincinnati Milacron Inc. has purchased Autojectors Inc., a major builder of vertical-clamp insert molding machines and a Milacron private-label supplier for the past five years, Milacron announced May 29.
Milacron ``has identified insert molding as a strategic and growing segment,'' said William Gruber, vice president of Milacron's U.S. Plastics Technologies Group.
``This acquisition culminates a fruitful five-year relationship Milacron has had with Autojectors as the key producer of our own vertical machinery,'' he said.
Milacron said Autojectors, with factories in Avilla and Albion, Ind., generates sales of about $20 million a year. The company, which employs 130, manufactures vertical injection molding machines in clamping forces from 10-400 tons.
Autojectors President Bill Carteaux will continue to manage the business. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Gruber, in a statement announcing the deal, said Autojectors' company name, image, brand, operations and separate distribution channels will continue under the new ownership. Milacron's Plastics Technologies Group in Batavia, Ohio, racked up $736 million in 1997 sales.
Autojectors had been owned by Group Dekko, a diverse group of industrial companies based in Kendallville, Ind.
Competitors in the vertical-press market said the deal makes sense.
``I think it's probably a good fit,'' said Keith Larson, sales manager at Wabash MPI in Wabash, Ind. ``They were working together well anyway and it fills a hole Milacron had in their product line.''
Kurt Fenske, vice president of sales and marketing at Engel North America, said the machinery segment is growing, largely because of the booming electrical products markets.
``The insert molding business has definitely been on the rise, and the demand for vertical machines is really good, so I'm not surprised they made the move,'' said Fenske, based in Guelph, Ontario.
Charles T. Sherman, president of PH Group Inc., a Columbus, Ohio, firm that makes Trueblood insert presses, said the consolidation means machine buyers have less choice. ``Frankly, I look at it almost as a positive for Trueblood. We can be an alternative source as a small, aggressive company,'' he said.
Two years ago, Van Dorn Demag Corp. bought another independent vertical-press builder, Newbury Industries.
Autojectors is based in Avilla, in a 50,000-square-foot factory built in 1995. That plant houses Autojectors' machine assembly operations. The 45,000-square-foot Albion factory, about 10 miles away, houses component manufacturing, product development, technical services and contract services, which rebuilds used machines.
Carteaux called the acquisition a very positive move: ``By joining the Milacron family we will have access to Milacron's technical and manufacturing resources, as well as the needed capital to pursue global markets and an expanded product line,'' he said.
Milacron's acquisition of Autojectors comes after Autojectors ended its two-year association with Brazil's Oriente M quinas e Equipmentos Ltda.
Oriente, which remains in operation, is restructuring its debts under Brazil's concordata law. Concordata is similar to U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Oriente also has started selling Italian Negri Bossi injection presses in Brazil, an Oriente executive said.
Oriente still owes Autojectors $60,000 for a 35-ton Autojectors machine it sold at the Brasilplast 97 show in SÃo Paulo, according to Autojectors President Carteaux.
``They got paid by the customer and we never saw a dime,'' he said. Oriente had sold one other Autojectors machine under the alliance.
Roberto Correa Mello, Oriente's executive director, acknowledged the $60,000 debt. ``The debt exists and is included in the amounts to be settled,'' he said.
Since mid-1996, Oriente has been handling sales and service of Autojectors machines in Latin America. Officials of both machinery companies hoped that Oriente one day would assemble Autojectors presses in Brazil.
But after experiencing financial problems, Oriente filed for concordata in January, Mello said.
``It's extremely disappointing for us because the opportunities are still tremendous down there,'' Carteaux said.
He said Autojectors still wants to sell its vertical-clamp machines in Brazil. Autojectors has sold 12 machines there so far.
The Autojectors/Oriente alliance took a hit last year, when M rcio Ribaldo resigned as Oriente's director of commercial sales, administration, finance and service. Ribaldo and Carteaux set up the agreement.
Oriente's Artur Nogueira plant, near SÃo Paulo, has remained in production. Mello said Oriente signed an agreement six months ago with Milan-based Negri Bossi SpA. He would not say how many Negri Bossi's Oriente has sold.
Mello expects the court in SÃo Paulo to review the concordata request in early June. If approved, Oriente will have two years to organize its finances and settle debts.
Mello said Oriente and Autojectors never had a formal agreement.
Plastics News Brazilian correspondent Sandra Mara Costa contributed to this report.