ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Product developer Herbst LaZar Bell Inc. extended its geographic range with the acquisition of a Southern California operation from Moll Industries Inc.
Chicago-based HLB purchased equipment, was assuming leases and hired all 17 workers at the nearly 10,000-square-foot facility in Lake Forest, Calif., said Kathleen Thomas-Frenzel, HLB's vice president of client services. Terms were not disclosed.
Moll President Charles Schiele said the operation, once part of Compression Inc., was "not strategically linked with what we are doing."
Selling the operation makes its two remaining Compression design centers more important than ever to Moll, Schiele said in a telephone interview. The firm's remaining design sites in Atlanta and Waterloo, Ontario, have the proximity to support Moll manufacturing plants. The California location did not.
HLB and Moll intend to work together in the future, Schiele said.
"Adding value upfront with specialized design and engineering services is being more important than ever."
The Lake Forest site offers industrial design, rapid prototyping and mechanical engineering. Equipment includes two stereolithography units, a selective laser sintering machine and a three-dimensional laser-digitizing scanner. HLB took control of the site Jan. 1.
HLB began prototyping at its downtown Chicago location in 1964 and extended its computer numerically controlled and fabrication capabilities in 1998 when it bought Centerline Models Ltd. of Bartlett, Ill. HLB has been focusing on business development in Southern California for the past six months.
"So when Moll's offer came about, it tied in perfectly," Thomas-Frenzel said in an interview at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing show, held Jan. 8-10 in Anaheim.
HLB's 100 employees include 22 in a Waltham, Mass., plant; six in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and the others in Illinois and California.
In December, Moll moved its headquarters from Knoxville, Tenn., to a manufacturing facility in Davie, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. Moll's 1999 North American injection molding sales of $312 million placed 17th on Plastics News' ranking.
Moll had acquired the California location as part of its April 1999 acquisition of three Compression Inc. product design and development centers.
Compression began in 1993, grew quickly but succumbed to financial pressures. Compression's numerous sites were sold or closed after the business sought protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in March 1999.