The new owners of industrial blow molder Hedwin Corp. have day jobs working on the production line, at the reception desk and throughout the company.
The Baltimore-based maker of industrial containers was sold Jan. 30 by Belgian chemicals conglomerate Solvay SA to Hedwin employees, who purchased the company through an employee stock ownership plan. Most of the 380 workers now have an ownership stake in Hedwin, said Andrea Harrison, spokeswoman for the Maryland governor's office.
``This is the kind of thing that upper management usually does, not everybody at the company,'' Harrison said Feb. 26. ``The company was actually holding seminars with employees telling them what it means to be an owner. It's not just tying money into a 401K account.''
Hedwin officials could not be reached for comment last week, after the company held a ceremony with the state to announce the ESOP. But Hedwin President David Rubley wrote about the change in a Feb. 2 letter to customers.
``Given the challenges our nation's economy has presented in recent years, change seems an inevitable visitor to us all,'' Rubley wrote. ``While the ownership of the company has changed, our core beliefs have not.''
Brussels, Belgium-based Solvay had owned Hedwin since 1958, only a dozen years after the company was founded by Baltimore inventor Tom Winstead, according to information from the state of Maryland. But recently, Solvay had told Hedwin officials of its desire to find a buyer for the company. Rubley asked to be notified before a deal was struck, Harrison said.
Hedwin management decided to engineer a loan to shift the company into employee hands, Harrison said. Hedwin received an $8.2 million machinery and equipment term loan from LaSalle Business Credit LLC and received a revolving line of credit, according to state officials. The Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority insured $2.5 million of the loan.
``Stock in the employee ownership plan is paid for by company profits, and employees incur no out-of-pocket costs,'' Rubley said. ``Existing retirement plans are continued.''
The firm employs 308 at its Baltimore plant and 72 at other locations, including a production facility in La Porte, Ind. The firm also runs warehouse and distribution sites in California and Texas.
Hedwin makes containers, liners for pails and drums, and custom products, including a cube-shaped container that protects against chemicals and a line of dispensing products.
The company plans to retain its workforce, Harrison said.