To boost its European medical device business, a Tech Group Inc. unit has agreed to acquire majority ownership of Detail Plastics Ltd. of Padiham, England. No terms were disclosed. The deal should close Feb. 14.
Employing 20, Detail operates three Demag Ergotech injection molding presses with clamping forces of 55-110 tons and two thermoforming machines. Other operations include design, development and manual assembly.
Joe Govier and John Chacksfield will continue as key Detail executives and shareholders, David Moffitt, managing director of Tech Group Europe, said in a release. Currently, Govier is group chief executive officer, and Chacksfield is managing director. Under Tech Group, Govier will be managing director of Detail Plastics, and Chacksfield will be general manager.
Govier founded the business in late 1997 and received a 1999 LiveWire young entrepreneurs award from Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In October, the firm moved to a custom-constructed, 22,000-square-foot, controlled-environment facility in Padiham, from two locations in Lancaster and Edinburgh, England. Further growth is planned.
``We will immediately be triggering an expansion of our [Class 10,000] clean room [and] the acquisition of further molding machines and a new thermoforming press,'' probably a Kiefel KMD52B, Govier said. Tech Group's investment ``allows us to more aggressively pursue the unprecedented number of business opportunities currently facing us.''
Detail received ISO 9002 and EN 46002 certifications in 2000 and supplies parts and packaging to United Kingdom medical, health-care and electronics customers.
In September, the firm began using its StatPack-brand amorphous PET in thermoforming static-sensitive semiconductor and circuit-board clamshells, nesting trays and lids.
Separately in Mulhuddart, Ireland, Tech Group Europe operates a high-volume, 40,000-square-foot precision molding facility that opened in mid-1998. The acquisition will complement the Ireland operations, Moffitt said.
The medical market accounts for about 50 percent of Tech Group's global custom molding and assembly business and 65 percent of that business in the Western Hemisphere.
Meanwhile, Tech Group temporarily has laid off 11 of 34 tooling employees at its customer and engineering center in Scottsdale, Ariz. The move affected a new automated mold-making concept known as Super-Cell that the company has touted for its consistency, speed and cost savings.
``When we invested in the Super-Cell idea, we were doing $12 million to $15 million [annually] in tooling,'' said Chief Executive Officer Steve Uhlmann.
In beginning the investment, ``we probably picked the worst year in the world,'' he said by telephone. ``Right now, the marketplace is beating up on us.''
Tech tooling engineers await two large pending medical jobs, together worth about $1 million.
``One went back to the [customer's] board for approval, and the other is in a design change,'' he said. Once the funding comes through, Tech Group intends to recall its workers.
Scottsdale-based Tech Group has annual sales of $120 million.