After a five-year hiatus, Coastal Plastics Corp. is back in the hands of its founder and four longtime employees.
John Crawford, who founded the Jacksonville, Fla.-based film extruder with a partner in 1978, and staffers Della Smith, Robert Barlanti, Dwight Ozmore and Diane LeMire purchased 66 percent of Coastal from Mesirow Financial Partners of Chicago in early July. Crawford already owned the other 34 percent.
``Investment people like Mesirow are only in the business for the investment,'' Crawford said. ``They were going to close out the fund at some point and we'd be sold or merged or we could buy it.
``Obviously nobody knows a company better than its employees,'' he added. ``I didn't want any other partners than who I brought to the dance.''
Smith, Balarti, Ozmore and LeMire have more than 60 years of combined experience with Coastal.
Mesirow had acquired Coastal in 1994 through an aborted merger between Coastal and Rhodes Plastics Corp., a New Jersey film extruder that closed shortly after the deal was completed.
With Coastal back under in-house ownership, Crawford expects the firm to be able to respond more quickly to market demands and to proceed with expansions without going through multiple layers of management.
Coastal's expansion plans include adding two new extrusion lines next year and two more in 2000. Earlier this year, the 65-employee firm completed a 17,000-square-foot expansion to grow its plant to 66,000 square feet.
Coastal operates nine lines extruding high density and linear low density polyethylene film for can and box liners, food packaging and other applications. It expects to post sales of $10 million this year. By 2001, Crawford expects the company to have 80 employees and annual sales of about $13.5 million.
Crawford also said he's looking forward to Coastal becoming involved in testing new technology once again. The firm did some of the earliest testing of both LLDPE and metallocene PE materials for resin makers and now generates 25 percent of its sales from metallocene materials.
``We were working with metallocenes before other people could spell it,'' Crawford said.
To succeed, Coastal will have to provide specialized products while staying up on technology.
``You can't say `We too' with the Tycos and AEPs or they'll kill you,'' Crawford said. ``I'm looking forward to getting back to work.''