Hoover Materials Handling Group Inc. has boosted its drum operations by purchasing Florida Drum Co. Inc.
``This instantly gives us credibility and establishes our presence in the drum market,'' David Humphrey, Hoover's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a telephone interview.
``This acquisition also offers a much-broader product line to meet the needs of our largest customers,'' he said.
Hoover of Alpharetta, Ga., describes itself as North America's largest manufacturer of intermediate bulk containers. While Hoover entered the drum market only last fall with its acquisition of Tubingen Plastics Group, Florida Drum is a well-established, 60-year-old firm.
Consolidation in the drum industry seems to be in vogue.
After buying Container Management Services Inc. and Hunter Drums Ltd., Russell-Stanley Corp. picked up Smurfit Packaging Corp. for $70 million, giving Russell-Stanley a majority share of the plastic drum business. A month later, Greif Bros. Corp. beefed up its plastic drum operations with its $225 million purchase of Sonoco Products Co.'s industrial container group.
``Consolidation in the industry is a response to pressure in the marketplace,'' Humphrey said. ``Our major customers typically use both drums and intermediate bulk containers. They asked us to get in a position to supply both.''
Florida Drum, now headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., originally was a Pensacola, Fla.-based metal container manufacturer. The firm diversified into plastic in 1983. It specializes in the durable, Mauser L Ring-style drum — a new product line for Hoover.
Now known as the Florida Drum Division of Hoover, Florida Drum operates four plants — two in Pine Bluff, Ark., and one each in Charlotte and Harrisburg, N.C. The company makes drums of steel and of high-molecular-weight high density polyethylene.
Florida Drum, which employs more than 200, makes plastic drums at the Charlotte and Pine Bluff facilities.
For the moment, Hoover plans to keep all the plants and employees. However, it has not ruled out the possibility of consolidation.
``We anticipate growth in the drum market,'' Humphrey said. ``There could be geographic consolidation down the road if it would make us more efficient. We need to add capacity beyond where Florida Drum is now.''
Florida Drum reported blow molding sales of $15 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 1996. An industry official pegged the firm's total sales at about $60 million for 1997.
With sales of $55 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 1996, Hoover ranked at No. 32 in Plastics News' 1997 survey of North American blow molders.