Nypro Inc. has purchased a minority stake in TriQuest Precision Plastics' injection molding plant in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Jan. 17 deal provides Nypro with a larger Mexican presence and will give the company what it sees as an important entry into suppliers that want to boost their business with minority-owned firms. TriQuest, which is owned by Native Americans in Alaska, said it liked Clinton, Mass.-based Nypro's worldwide operations and access to a global customer base.
TriQuest's parent, Juneau-based Sealaska Corp., has been looking to shed its plastics assets, claiming they were losing money and that it was unable to provide needed capital.
``We expect we will increase the amount of work we get from major electronics and computer manufacturing firms because of the strength of this joint venture,'' Sealaska President and Chief Executive Officer Chris McNeil said in a statement.
The 165,000-square-foot plant employs 427 and has 63 injection presses.
Sealaska will keep a majority share of TriQuest SA de CV, but Nypro will operate the plant. Financial terms were not disclosed.
``It's a great operation - they just haven't had access to the kind of business you need to run 63 molding machines on a 24-hour-a-day basis,'' said Nypro spokesman Al Cotton.
Both firms said TriQuest's status as a corporation set up under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act will give the joint venture access to suppliers that want to do business with minority-owned vendors.
``We expect some Nypro customers who have agreed to set aside certain percentages of their purchasing for minority suppliers'' will welcome Nypro's move, Nypro President Brian Jones said in a statement.
In particular, Cotton said, it should help Nypro with computer and electronics manufacturers that have federal government contracts that require minority-owned suppliers.
Nypro looked at the plant in the summer but decided against a deal at the time, Cotton said. Nypro since has become more interested in minority set-aside business.
Sealaska bought TriQuest in 1997, but retained an investment-banking firm in December 2000 to try to sell it. TriQuest converted its Vancouver, Wash., facility into a joint venture with Puget Plastics Corp. in October 2000, and sold a toolmaking facility in Baxter, Minn., to Ultra Tool Co. in January 2001.
McNeil said in a telephone interview that Sealaska is continuing to explore options for its remaining plastics plant, an injection molding operation in the Apodaca district of Mexico, near Monterrey.
Sealaska told its shareholders in June that it lost $122 million in calendar 2000, on sales of $72 million. The loss, its first in 18 years, included $42 million in operating losses and $80 million in writedowns. The company said it has been investing in Indian gaming and telecommunications.
Sealaska has more than 16,000 Native Alaskan shareholders and is the largest private landowner in Southeast Alaska. Nypro had North American sales of $478.1 million in Plastics News' 2001 ranking of injection molders, and has 28 plants in 12 countries.