Aetna Plastics Corp., a distributor of materials used in fabrication, has purchased one of its nearby customers in a bid to upgrade its plastics machining technology.
The Cleveland company acquired Vanguard Plastics Inc. of Mantua, Ohio, in mid-May for an undisclosed price. Both companies have been in business, in one form or another, for more than 50 years and have worked together on projects, said Aetna President Gary Davis.
Aetna - a small company started in 1946 by Davis' father, Paul - had been searching for an acquisition for three years, Gary Davis said. While the company does a little plastics fabrication at plants in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, it wants to grow that end of the market, he said.
Newer, automated technology was something Aetna did not have, but Vanguard did.
``The environment in the manufacturing sector has changed a great deal,'' Davis said June 2. ``We had a whole lot of manual capabilities, but [Vanguard] has more advanced equipment. The new technology ramps us up to where we couldn't get by ourselves.''
Vanguard fabricates a variety of corrosion-resistant products such as large water-treatment tanks and containment vessels, hoods, duct systems and both in-ground and above-ground trench and trough liners. The company also uses specialized laser cutting equipment on its machining centers to cut through carbon steel for its fabrication work.
The company created the Vanguard name in 1986, when Clyde Bailey purchased the company and changed its direction to corrosion-resistant custom fabrication. Started in 1957 as a maker of fiberglass-reinforced boats, the company built its 18,000-square-foot Mantua plant in 1979.
Aetna will move its fabrication work to that facility and use its other two locations solely for warehousing and distribution, Davis said. The Mantua site will become the Vanguard Fabrication Division of Aetna Plastics.
The combined company has about 30 employees. The numbers are not large, compared to some transactions, but the deal gives Vanguard strength in a niche segment, according to Davis.
It continues the legacy started by Paul Davis, who was a founder of the International Association of Plastics Distributors, based in Leawood, Kan., while growing Aetna.
``This was our first acquisition in more than 60 years,'' Davis said. ``It gives us real staying power by offering more width and breadth of services.''