A private equity firm that includes the former chairman of Uniroyal Technology Corp. has bought Uniroyal Engineered Products, a maker of vinyl-coated fabrics commonly known as Naugahyde.
Uniroyal Engineered Products had been owned by Uniroyal Technology and was one of its last remaining business units. The sale of Uniroyal Engineered Products to Five Points Partners LLC represents a final chapter for Tampa, Fla.-based Uniroyal Technology. The company planned to cease operations Oct. 31 and turn over its remaining assets and liabilities to an outside trustee for disposition, said George Sanchez, Uniroyal Technology executive vice president of administration, on Oct. 30.
Uniroyal Technology had filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in August 2002 at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. One of the company's last duties before it closed was to sell Uniroyal Engineered Products, a profitable business that generated most of the remaining sales for the company, Sanchez said.
In July, Uniroyal Technology contacted New York-based investment banker Morgan Joseph & Co. to look for potential buyers for the vinyl coating operation. Fifty-three groups received solicitation materials, according to a court filling.
Uniroyal Engineered Products, based in Stoughton, Wis., separately sought out Five Points, a New York-based investment firm with holdings in restaurant franchises and wireless networks.
Five Points President Howard F. Curd was a former financial adviser to Uniroyal Technology. His father, Howard R. Curd, is an equity investor in Five Points. The elder Curd is the former chairman, chief executive and board director for Uniroyal Technology. He left the company earlier this year.
The Curds' financial support of the Naugahyde business could help the company grow, said Larry Bressler, executive vice president and general manager of Uniroyal Products.
``It's the first time our Naugahyde operation has been owned by a privately held entity, instead of being part of somebody else. It's the first time we're independent, and we're happy about that,'' he said.
The bidding for the company was fairly intense, Sanchez said. Five Points ended up paying $17.3 million for the company, consisting of $7.1 million in cash and the assumption of certain liabilities, according to court documents. Five Points officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Uniroyal Engineered Products religiously promotes Naugahyde, a plastic fabric providing the dark richness of leather, and even calls itself Naugahyde Co. Its Web site includes a fictitious history of the ``chameleon-like animals known as Naugas'' that landed at Ellis Island and whose ``hydes'' are the source of the fabric.
The buyers intend to keep the plant operating and its 130 workers employed, Bressler said. The company also has a sales office in Nappanee, Ind., close to the recreational-vehicle market. Uniroyal Engineered Products generated about $30 million in sales last year, Sanchez said.
Uniroyal Products plans to use its newfound independence to reinvigorate its work in the automotive market, Bressler said. For the past year, the company had a noncompete clause in that industry after selling some of its technology.
But Bressler said a large opportunity is available for the leather substitute on vehicle seats and door panels. The company already is a major producer of Naugahyde for heavy trucks and snowmobiles. Uniroyal Products' main lifeline has been in furniture, including the reupholstery market and seating for restaurants.