Investment firm Valtech LLC, a group headed by a plastics industry veteran, has bought selected assets of molder and toolmaker Foster Group LLC and plans to grow the struggling company.
Valtech is headed by James Gaffney, former general manager of Century Mold Co. Inc. of Rochester, N.Y., and includes several executives from the plastics industry.
The purchase was completed April 30, and new operations started May 1.
Rochester-based Foster Group owned three separate companies: custom injection molder Westplex Industries Corp. of Manchester, N.Y.; production mold and die maker Asmat Inc.; and prototype tooling and product-design house Papago Plastics Inc. In December, Papago moved its operations to Asmat's 17,000-square-foot plant in Rochester.
The three companies will continue to grow and be treated as a start-up company under the Valtech name, Gaffney said in a May 2 telephone interview.
``The plan is to provide value thorough innovative technology,'' Gaffney said. ``We'll operate as one company, and we hope to bring some new value-added approaches to the business.''
The Valtech investors purchased the selected assets, including the equipment and inventory, from Buffalo, N.Y.-based M&T Bank Corp. for an undisclosed price. Foster Group had been seeking suitors since last fall and had been struggling to maintain profitability, Gaffney said.
Gaffney's group, meanwhile, was looking for an opportunity to launch a new company and build a profitable business, he said.
Foster Group sales had slipped to about $9 million annually after a high of about $15 million several years ago. The company has a long history and a respected name in the plastics industry, Gaffney said.
Foster Group principals Gary Foster and Richard Dillon acquired Asmat in 1994 and Westplex in 1997. Papago owner David Bank sold his company to the group in 1998.
Westplex now has about 30 injection presses and molds such precision parts as gaskets, gears and printer cartridges. Asmat has specialized in multicavity production tools, while Papago has focused on aluminum prototype and low-volume molds.
Foster and Dillon were not available for comment.
Gaffney, a mechanical engineer with a master's degree in business administration, hopes to combine those skills to invigorate company operations. He is starting by examining the company's management systems used for tracking, quality and customer service and is considering other ways to enhance profitability and cut costs, he said.
The 45,000-square-foot Westplex operation made a slight profit this year, Gaffney said. By focusing on operational issues, the company hopes to move to a more solid financial footing, he said. Before working at Century, Gaffney was an engineer with both General Motors Corp. and Bausch & Lomb Inc.
``We're used to working in problematic situations, and my training with larger companies was valuable,'' he said. ``This will take some time, but we knew there are great opportunities with this company.''