Paradise Inc., a maker of both candied fruit and plastic containers, has bought a small custom vacuum former in its home state of Florida as a first step in the company's plans to grow the plastics side of its business.
The company, based in Plant City, Fla., acquired Mastercraft Products Corp., a heavy-gauge vacuum former in DeLeon Springs, Fla. The deal, for undisclosed terms, was completed May 14.
Paradise, publicly traded as an over-the-counter stock, has been seeking a thermoforming company since at least late 2001. The company had retained equity firm CLB Partners Inc. of Dix Hills, N.Y., to help in the process.
This deal was too small to need CLB's help, even though it is consistent with Paradise's plans, said CLB managing director Michael Ho. CLB will continue to help Paradise search for larger acquisitions in the thermoforming area, he said.
Mastercraft, with 12-15 employees and a 15,000-square-foot plant, was a good start to hike capacity and broaden products and customers, said Paradise Chief Financial Officer Jack Laskowitz. The acquisition is the first for Paradise in about 10 years, he said.
``It fits well into our ability to manage, without swallowing us up [in resources],'' he said. ``Both companies are lean, and it's a manageable [purchase].''
About 23 percent of Paradise's sales come from its plastics side, including both thermoforming and injection molding. The company touts itself as the largest U.S.-based maker of candied fruits and peels, with many of its products used by institutional bakers to make fruitcakes popular during the Christmas season. Other fruit products are sold at large retail chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Its thin-gauge containers and lids are used for bakery and deli products and as a package for some of it fruit products. The company also makes a variety of heavy-gauge and injection molded products at its 350,000-square-foot Plant City location. The company recorded sales of $21.6 million last year, with about $5 million of that coming from its Paradise Plastics subsidiary, according to its annual report.
The Mastercraft acquisition adds the heavy-gauge thermoforming of acrylic materials to Paradise's line, said Martin Riesen, Paradise vice president of engineering and manufacturing. Mastercraft has six specialty acrylic thermoforming stations and a few more single-station vacuum formers, he said.
That compares with four larger, rotary thermoforming units at Paradise's Plant City facility, used for heavy-gauge thermoforming. The Mastercraft operation's acrylic products include bassinet covers used in hospitals and shields for the salad bars of restaurants, Riesen said.
Paradise has no immediate plans to move Mastercraft's operations to Plant City, Laskowitz said. But by combining the companies, Paradise can gain some economies of scale it has been looking for, he said.
``We looked at the overall operation and saw immediately that we could combine purchasing,'' Laskowitz said. ``We had decent information on who they are and what they do. That made this acquisition quick and easy.''