WEST BROOKFIELD, MASS. — A new company, the Brookfield Group, will combine five companies from Massachusetts and New Hampshire into a shopping center for anything from prototyping to parts production.
The merger, which is scheduled to be completed within a few days, will join Brookfield Machine Inc., of West Brookfield; Brookfield Rapid Solutions and Brookfield Innovations, both of Hudson, N.H.; and Wilderness Mold Inc. and Mill Valley Molding Inc., both of West Hatfield, Mass. The holding company will be based in West Brookfield.
The new company will have nearly 250 employees and 1998 sales of more than $25 million.
Christopher S. Nesbitt, chairman and chief executive officer of Brookfield Group, said, ``This will allow all five firms to focus on their core competencies, but there will be selling across the board. We will have one sales team selling all our products.''
He added that the combination will allow the companies to share expertise in administration and financing, and will be able to ``pool their buying power.''
Mill Valley is an injection molder, Wilderness Mold a mold maker. Brookfield Rapid Solutions is a rapid prototyping company. Brookfield Innovations does research and development. Brookfield Machine designs and manufactures molds, dies and automated assemblies.
Nesbitt said the consolidation will not cost any jobs. He added that all five companies have job openings and the combination should enhance career advancement for many employees.
``I'm excited for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the single most important reason is the employees,'' Nesbitt said. ``I'm thrilled about the talent, the energy, the enthusiasm and the eagerness of the employees [to accept the merger].''
The merger is a straight stock swap. All the firms are privately held. Nesbitt, Steve Ettelson, Ralph E. Healy and James K. Patenaude will be the principal owners. Within the Brookfield Group, Ettelson will serve as president and chief operating officer. Patenaude becomes vice chairman, and Healy vice president.
The owners met when their booths were side-by-side at a trade show in Marlborough, Mass., two years ago.
``Over time, we learned that we shared common business philosophies, the same hopes and dreams for the organizations,'' Nesbitt said. ``But the real bench mark was the respect and great value we all placed on the individual employees.''
All the companies were successful and growing, he said, but the merger is an attempt to give the customer more.
``No particular customer [told us to combine],'' Nesbitt said. ``But it is a mantra or a drum beat that you hear out there. It is expressed by customers as a need for speed and a desire to get things to market quicker.''
All the firms have undergone rapid expansion in recent years.
Brookfield Machine celebrated its 50th anniversary in September. Nesbitt bought the company nine years ago. Brookfield Machine employs 85 at a new, 40,000-square-foot building, which was completed in July. The firm specializes in designing and building close-tolerance tools, mainly gages, dies, fixtures, molds and automation equipment.
Nesbitt joined with Ettelson to start Brookfield Rapid Solutions in 1995. The firm employs 30 and has 12,000 square feet of manufacturing space.
Brookfield Innovations, which employs 10, was founded this year to conduct research in both rapid and new tooling technologies. It is investigating powder-metal technologies to reduce the amount of machining necessary to make injection molds.
Wilderness Mold Inc. moved from Northampton, Mass., to a 7-acre, 23,750-square-foot site in West Hatfield late last year. It has 50 workers, and is adjoined by Mill Valley Molding Inc., which was co-owned by Patenaude and Healy.
Mill Valley, which opened in 1986, has 70 workers, 12,500 square feet of manufacturing space, plus a separate 2,400-square-foot subassembly area. It is a custom injection molder specializing in precision parts.
Nesbitt said that individually the companies may have been passed over for jobs in the past because separately they may have been viewed as too small.
``Now, when they look at us as a holding company with 250 employees, they may look differently,'' he said.