Crane Plumbing Co. of Evanston, Ill., has agreed to buy the Plumbing Products Group of Nortek Inc. of Providence, R.I. The deal would combine four thermoforming plants under Crane's umbrella.
``We manufacture acrylic products in Dallas, Texas, and Winnipeg, Canada,'' Crane President Reed Beidler said by telephone.
Nortek's Bathing Systems Group is part of the proposed sale. It thermoforms acrylic tubs and showers in New Castle, Pa., and Union Point, Ga.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed, and the deal awaits antitrust scrutiny and due diligence before becoming final.
Universal-Rundle, the business name of Nortek's plumbing division, reported 1997 sales of $104.5 million. Nortek trades on the New York Stock Exchange. It classified its plumbing products division as discontinued in February.
Despite the sale of its thermoforming operations, Nortek will remain in the plastics industry.
Nortek became a vinyl siding producer in 1997 when it purchased Ply Gem Industries Inc. of New York. The Variform siding division of Ply Gem reported 1997 sales of $188 million and ranked No. 15 in Plastics News' recent survey of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders.
``We've been selling off some of the [Ply Gem] businesses, but those have mostly been in wood,'' Nortek Vice President Richard J. Harris said. ``We are going to keep the vinyl businesses.''
Nortek also fabricates vinyl and wood windows and makes heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems. It reported more than $1.13 billion in 1997 sales.
Crane Plumbing is privately held and does not report sales figures. It is not affiliated with publicly held Crane Co. of Stamford, Conn., which operates a plumbing products division in Canada.