ESS mulls fate of plastics division
ST. LOUIS - Engineered Support Systems Inc. is contemplating the long-term fate of its plastics division.
The St. Louis-based firm hopes to make a decision within six months, said Dan Kreher, director of investor relations and acquisitions. He said ESS is exploring various alternatives but he would not discuss them in detail.
ESS' plastics division lost about $600,000 in the company's first quarter, ended Jan. 31. Sales plummeted 43 percent to $2.8 million from the year-earlier period. Kreher said weak demand in the telecommunications sector caused most of the sales decline. Other markets supplied by the plastics unit include housewares, food processing, lawn and garden and automotive.
ESS runs custom injection molding plants in Hot Springs, Ark., where it has its headquarters, and in Bossier City, La., a facility it bought in July 1999.
Kreher said the plastics division is not very integrated with ESS' other military-related businesses.
Milacron licenses technology to Sipa
CINCINNATI - Another skirmish is over in Milacron Inc.'s patent war over personal-computer-based machine controllers, as Milacron announced it will license the technology to Sipa SpA, an Italian supplier of blow molding machines and injection presses for making PET bottles.
The deal, announced Feb. 27, covers Sipa, Sipa North America Inc. and its parent company, Zoppas Industries SpA, based in Vittorio Veneto, Italy. Cincinnati-based Milacron said it will grant Sipa a paid-up, nonexclusive license to use the PC-based control technology. Milacron in turn will drop its lawsuit against Sipa in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, and also dismiss claims pending before the International Trade Commission.
Milacron had filed complaints in mid-2001 with ITC against Sipa, German injection press builder Dr. Boy GmbH, Italian injection press maker Sandretto USA Inc. and Groupe Sidel, a French maker of blow molding and packaging machinery. Sidel and Milacron have not reached a settlement.
Honda to make watercraft in S. Carolina
TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. - Vehicle maker Honda Motor Co. Inc. is bringing its new personal-watercraft production to the United States with an $11 million investment in Timmonsville.
Fiberglass suppliers in the United States already launched production for the first Honda personal watercraft last year, shipping composite decks, hulls and liners to Japan for assembly. The new plant in South Carolina will take over production later this year, making up to 100 of the AquaTrax PWCs daily, depending on consumer demand.
The plant joins the Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing Inc. operation already running at Timmonsville, with 1,500 employees making all-terrain vehicles.
The ATV operation has its own in-house injection molding and blow molding, said Bill Kalp, senior vice president for Honda of South Carolina, in a Feb. 28 telephone interview.
Alcoa purchases Engineered Plastic
FRANKLIN, TENN. - Automotive supplier Alcoa Fujikura Ltd. has bought the remaining 50 percent interest in precision injection molder Engineered Plastic Components Inc., a company that Alcoa Fujikura helped start.
Alcoa Fujikura's automotive division, a maker of electrical and electronic systems, had owned half of EPC, based in Mattawan, Mich. EPC's owners, including the Molitor family, had been seeking an exit strategy before retirement, according to sources close to the companies.
The EPC plants include a 206,000-square-foot site on 46 acres in Mattawan and another 30,000-square-foot injection molding facility in Dundalk, Ireland. Together, those facilities have more 160 injection presses, according to company information.
EPC, also a molder of automotive parts for electrical and electronic systems, will become the centerpiece of Alcoa Fujikura's auto components business, based in Franklin, Tenn., an Alcoa Fujikura spokeswoman said.
EPC will be folded into the firm's automotive unit, said Robert Alexander, president of Alcoa Fujikura Worldwide Automotive, in a written statement. EPC has more than 800 employees
Alcoa Fujikura is a joint venture between Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. and Tokyo-based wire and cable maker Fujikura Ltd. Officials with both EPC and Alcoa Fujikura declined to comment beyond a written news release.