Bemis Manufacturing Co., an injection molder of medium and large parts, has expanded its capacity by acquiring Kelch Corp., a specialist in small to medium components, for an undisclosed amount.
The two firms agreed to the deal to offer customers value-added services at low cost, Bemis announced Jan. 11.
Bemis, based in Sheboygan Falls, Wis., and Kelch of Cedarburg, Wis., completed the deal Dec. 31.
The companies offer complementary press sizes and technologies, making the combination attractive to original equipment manufacturers, said Bemis Executive Vice President Peter Bemis. OEMs want to work with fewer suppliers.
Bemis and Kelch officials did not disclose annual sales of the firms. Bemis of Sheboygan Falls, Wis., employs 2,000 in custom and proprietary injection molding, compression molding and profile extrusion. Kelch employs about 400 in custom and proprietary molding.
Plastics News estimates Kelch's sales at $53 million a year, but Kelch President Dennis Nourse would not confirm the figure. He said in a telephone interview that Kelch has about 60 injection presses with clamping forces to 1,000 tons. Kelch and Bemis overlap in 750- to 1,000-ton sizes.
Bemis' molding technologies include coinjection, while Kelch offers injection welding, said Kelch spokeswoman Mary Scheibel. The firms' major common customer base is lawn and garden equipment. Each also participates in appliance and furniture markets. Bemis does some automotive custom molding too, said John Howell, legal counsel for Bemis.
Each firm also is big in proprietary products. Bemis is a major toilet seat molder and makes proprietary casual furniture and other consumer products and health-care items. Kelch molds under-the-hood parts for the lawn and garden market, and a proprietary line of steering wheels, caps and gauges.
Kelch has been streamlining to focus on its niche markets. A month before the Bemis deal, it sold its Twinsburg, Ohio, molding operation to local management led by Mark McCollum, former Twinsburg general manager and now president of CIMA Plastics Corp., the new name of the Twinsburg operation. Two months before then, Kelch sold its aluminum molds division to local management.
Twinsburg molds appliance parts and a range of other custom components. McCollum said CIMA will expand its customer base. It employs about 70 and forecasts sales of $6 million to $7 million this year. Its presses range from 150-700 tons. Kelch bought the Twinsburg plant, formerly called Orha Industries, in 1992, according to McCollum.
Bemis and Kelch began working together about five years ago on projects for Deere & Co. and other original equipment manufacturers. They established a loose alliance with other suppliers of design, tool-building and other services, which they often enlist on a job-to-job basis.
The alliance, called Consortium, helps OEMs working with Bemis and Kelch to get products to market faster and at lower cost, officials said. Howell said the two companies will continue to work with other suppliers on OEM orders.
Last spring, Bemis and Kelch started a joint venture expansion in Kelch's Lenoir, N.C., facility to give Bemis better access to the Southeast, key region for lawn and garden product manufacturing. The expansion will triple the size of the plant to 90,000 square feet when it is complete by March. No details on cost or machinery were disclosed.
Kelch will operate as an independent subsidiary and Nourse will remain president. Its manufacturing plants are in Cedarburg and Mequon, Wis., and Lenoir.
Bemis expanded its Barrie, Ontario, plant last year and is building a new plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Its other manufacturing facilities are in Sheboygan Falls and Crandon, Minn., and Burnley, England.