Penda Corp. may be the largest U.S. industrial thermoformer next year, and the largest manufacturer of truck bedliners, thanks to its acquisition of the bedliner and vinyl tonneau cover assets of Custom Form Manufacturing Inc.
The Oct. 23 deal gives Penda the Custom Form name and its operations in Elkhart, Ind. It also expands Penda's product line and its international market base, said Penda President and Chief Executive Officer Jack L. Thompson.
The acquisition is a significant one for Portage, Wis.-based Penda.
``I expect in 1999 we'll be the biggest manufacturer of bedliners in the United States,'' Thompson said.
To date, Thompson estimates Penda's sales at about $60 million. Custom Form's combined sales for 1998, so far, are about $17 million, according to Jack Barben, who founded the company in 1984 and served as its president until last week. Penda will retain Barben as a consultant.
Conversely, Barben said, the deal is beneficial for his new company, AALT Inc. Automotive Light Thermoforming, which he formed from the remaining Custom Form assets.
AALT will retain about 50 employees and will continue to operate four plants in Indiana, producing hood shields, visors and windows for the pickup-truck aftermarket, as well as rubber mats, vacuum-formed caps and canopies, Barben said.
Barben said AALT will focus on manufacturing rubber products for the automotive aftermarket and industrial, consumer and transportation markets.
For now, Thompson said, ``it's business as usual'' at Custom Form. Operations will continue at the Indiana plant, and Custom Form employees have been retained. But, ``as we go forward, there will be some migration to the Portage plant,'' he said.
Penda, an affiliate of Miami-based private investment firm Trivest Inc., operates two plants — one in Portage and another in Daleville, Ala. Trivest controls 10 firms in various industries with combined annual sales of $1 billion.
Penda makes Pendaliner-brand bedliners, fiberglass tonneau covers, Hide-A-Hook tie downs and Tri-Step step boards for the automotive aftermarket. It ranked third in Plastics News' 1998 survey of North American industrial thermoformers with sales of $63 million.
Lapeer, Mich.-based Durakon Industries Inc., the top industrial thermoformer, reported sales of $85 million. That firm also makes truck bedliners.