Wilkinson Manufacturing Co., a thermoformer known for using corn-based plastic, has been acquired by Mid Oaks Investments LLC, a Buffalo Grove, Ill., investment firm. Terms were not disclosed.
``We think it is a great company with an opportunity to expand in its market,'' said Wayne Kocourek, Mid Oaks' chairman and chief executive officer, in an April 29 telephone interview.
He said Wilkinson will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, and Mid Oaks will provide capital to help boost capacity.
Wilkinson makes aluminum and plastic food packaging. It employs more than 300 and has nearly 400,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space in Fort Calhoun, Neb.
Current management will stay, led by President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dalziel. He said six managers will own a stake in the company.
``The plan is to grow the business. Mid Oaks takes a long-term view and the company will grow organically and through acquisitions,'' Dalziel said.
Dalziel said both aluminum and plastics offer opportunities. On the plastics end, Wilkinson will expand in oriented polystyrene and polylactide packaging, he said.
Polylactide, a corn-based material from Cargill Dow LLC, has been a big growth area for Wilkinson, Kocourek said. The company thermoforms the material to make deli containers for Wild Oats Natural Marketplace in Boulder, Colo., and Dalziel said it will be tested in the New York market this week.
Wilkinson makes more than 450 products, including two-piece utility packaging and continuous-seal clamshells.
Mid Oaks already owns blow molder Liquid Container Corp. of West Chicago, Ill. It added the bottle maker to its portfolio in 1990. Liquid Container has 12 manufacturing sites and $230 million in annual sales.
``We happen to like the plastics area and think that there will be continued growth and other opportunities,'' said Kocourek, whose firm invests in companies ranging from fledgling firms to those with $400 million in sales.