Packaging and specialty thermoformer UFP Technologies Inc. is expanding its presence in the automotive market with its purchase of Simco Industries Inc., which supplies foam molding to automakers. UFP, based in Georgetown, Mass., bought Roseville, Mich.-based Simco for an undisclosed amount Jan. 14. Simco now does business as Simco Automotive, a division of UFP, said Simco President David Simon.
"[UFP] was one of the key suppliers as we got started in this business," Simon said. "We've gone from a friendship to a courtship to a marriage."
UFP already sells laminated textiles for the automotive trim industry. It announced in October it had a $12 million, four-year contract in partnership with Woodbridge Group of Mississauga, Ontario, to produce head-impact protection products for Ford Motor Co.'s Taurus and Mercury Sable models.
The purchase of Simco provides the business with a stronger automotive presence, said Richard Lesavoy, vice president of UFP's Specialty Products division. It had no Michigan production site before the purchase.
"It gives us an opportunity to expand further in automotive, with customers asking us to do more in the Detroit area," Lesavoy said. "[Simco] is a vehicle for us to expand."
Simco opened as an automotive tool shop in 1961, but moved into auto interior trim full time in 1997. It produces trim for doors, quarter panels and instrument panels under a proprietary process dubbed Superforming, which molds textiles, vinyl and foam components. UFP supplied the laminated textiles for Simco's foam molding.
Simco, a Tier 2 supplier, has 80 employees at two sites in Roseville, a Detroit suburb. It has about $13 million in annual sales.
While UFP does more business in packaging, specialty operations such as automotive are on the increase, said spokesman Ron Lataille.
UFP posted $47.2 million in sales in 1998, up from $45.5 million in 1997. It reported $42.8 million worth of sales through the first three quarters of 1999 alone — a jump from $34.7 million for the same period in 1998.
Simon anticipates further growth for Simco under UFP by combining his business's ability to mold foam-backed materials into three-dimensional shapes and UFP's laminating expertise.
UFP has gone shopping previously for other companies, buying Pacific Foam Inc. of Ventura, Calif., in 1998 for an undisclosed amount and taking over its specialty foam products for the health and cosmetics industry.
In 1997, it acquired FCE Industries Inc., an Addison, Ill.-based designer and manufacturer of engineered foam plastics for packaging and specialty applications.