Minneapolis-based Upper Midwest Industries Inc., which owns three manufacturing companies in Minnesota, has purchased a small blow molder, Blow Molded Specialties Inc.
Blow Molded Specialties, with $3 million in 1998 sales, employs 30 people running five accumulator-head blow molding machines. Gary and Susan Zupfer founded the company in 1992.
Blow Molded Specialties in Foley, Minn., molds medium-sized parts for several markets, including industrial containers, toys, automotive and lawn and garden.
Terms were not disclosed.
Gary Zupfer spent nearly 20 years at another Minnesota custom blow molder, Crosby Manufacturing Inc. in Riverton. He left Crosby in 1990, developed a business plan, built a factory building, bought some used machines and started Blow Molded Specialties.
Now the Zupfers plan to retire.
``For our company to grow, it needs to move to the next level — more systems, more capital — all of which UMI can provide,'' Susan Zupfer said. Gary Zupfer will act as a consultant.
Upper Midwest Chairman David R. Carlsen said his company will buy more machines and expand the factory. Blow Molded Specialties now has a 15,000-square-foot factory and 13,500 square feet of warehouse space.
Upper Midwest Industries now owns four manufacturing companies with total sales of $32 million and 250 employees.
The blow molding company purchase marks UMI's return to plastics. UMI used to own part of Minneapolis rotational molder Solar Plastics Inc., but two years ago sold its share to Solar President Chuck Carlsen. Chuck and David Carlsen are cousins.
David Carlsen's father, Ted Carlsen, founded Upper Midwest Industries in the early 1960s, by acquiring small manufacturers.
Today, UMI owns these Minnesota companies: Blow Molded Specialties; Spantek in Hopkins, which manufactures metal mesh for filters and acoustic panels; Atlas Manufacturing of Minneapolis, which makes precision sheet metal products for the electronics industry; and APG Cash Drawers of Fridley, a company that makes drawers and related components for cash registers.
Carlsen said UMI would like to buy other companies, and is open to looking outside of Minnesota.