BATAVIA, OHIO — Beefing up its line of single-screw extruders, Milacron Inc. has purchased Akron Extruders Inc., and announced plans to move machine production from Canal Fulton, Ohio, to the Milacron Plastics Technologies Group headquarters in Batavia, near Cincinnati. Milacron said it also hired two well-known screw designers from screw manufacturers Spirex Corp. and New Castle Industries Inc.
The Akron Extruders acquisition will mean the loss of 30-40 jobs in Canal Fulton, although Jim Abbiati, a Milacron vice president, said the company has offered jobs in Batavia to most of the employees. Workers were notified of the news when the deal closed May 23, although management told them earlier that the company was exploring a sale, said Akron Extruders President David Kattan.
Kattan will remain with the company, now called Akron Milacron, as general sales manager for single-screw extrusion systems. He will be based in Canal Fulton.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sales at Akron Extruders range from $5 million to $10 million a year, the companies said. Milacron, with $904 million in plastics machinery sales last year, is the largest U.S. plastics machinery manufacturer.
Milacron announced the acquisition May 24, just in time for its pre-NPE news conference in Batavia the following day.
Although Milacron already makes single-screw extruders, there is no overlap with the Akron line, Abbiati and Kattan said in an interview.
"It fleshes out our product-line platform," Abbiati said.
Milacron already makes single-screw extruders, but they are large machines that produce things like sheet and polyethylene pipe. Screw diameters range from 31/2-6 inches.
Akron Extruders, on the other hand, makes small extruders for the custom profile and medical tubing markets. One important market is straw striping, in which the coextrusion lines of several machines work together to make drinking straws, then add the decorative lines down their sides. Kattan said the company's screw diameters range from three-fourths of an inch to 41/2 inches.
Milacron was not able to serve that market, said Abbiati, who is vice president of Milacron's machinery applications business for blow molding and extrusion.
Akron Extruders also brings a strong reputation for aftermarket screws for single-screw extruders, Abbiati said. Until now, Milacron's production of screws for single-screw machines has gone into its own extruders. Now Milacron will move the Akron Extruders screw production to its Wear Technology screw and barrel plant in McPherson, Kan., he said.
Despite the relocation, Abbiati and Kattan said customers will not experience any disruption.
"What we want is what's in front of the customer not to change," Abbiati said.
Kattan, whose family has owned the firm for more than 20 years, pledged a seamless transition.
Akron Extruders was founded in 1947 and originally made rubber processing equipment. It later moved from Akron to Canal Fulton, and Kattan's father, Arthur, joined with a partner to purchase the company in 1976. David joined the company later that same year. Arthur Kattan served as chairman, but he has retired after selling the business to Milacron, his son said.
Production will be shut down in Canal Fulton in the near future, Kattan said.
"Milacron has gone above and beyond in their treatment of the employees, between the severance package they're offering and the job offers," he said. "They've brought in an outplacement service" to help people find new jobs.
Last December, Milacron unloaded its extruder factory in Vienna, Austria. Abbiati said the company is "allocating our resources from a marginally profitable business into the stronger, and growing, U.S. extrusion market."
In related news, Milacron announced it has hired:
Tim Womer, a former director of research and development for Spirex Corp., a screw manufacturer in Youngstown, Ohio. Womer has designed more than 4,000 screws.
James Frankland, the former president and chief executive officer of New Castle Industries in New Castle, Pa.
Milacron also hired a blow molding expert, Lew Ferguson. The company said Ferguson, a retired GE Plastics engineer, is a well-known authority on blow molding polycarbonate.
Frankland, Womer and Ferguson are all independent process consultants working exclusively for Milacron.