The German private equity firm that now owns blow molding machinery maker Kautex plans to invest in a research-and-development initiative, improve customer service worldwide and ``get quicker and leaner'' to reduce lead times, said a top executive.
``We're very convinced that we will build a strong Kautex in the future,'' said Florian Meise, a partner with new owner Adcuram Beteiligungs AG of Munich, Germany.
Meise also said Adcuram has patience. ``We invest with a very long-term perspective. We're not into buying and selling quickly. We have a commitment that we invest for at least 10 years,'' he said.
The equipment maker, now named Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH, is based in Bonn, Germany. Its North American unit, Kautex Machines Inc., is in North Branch, N.J.
Meise and Bernhard Berger, Kautex general manager, met U.S. employees on an Aug. 18 visit to New Jersey. ``Kautex has very strong assets - excellent technology, a very motivated and qualified staff and a great customer base. These are the type of assets you look for,'' Meise said in a telephone interview.
Kautex makes large accumulator-head extrusion blow molding machines that make fuel tanks and other big parts, and industrial machines that produce complex tubular parts such as ducts for cars.
Meise said Kautex was attractive because it has strong technology. Also, he said Adcuram looks to buy industrial companies it considers ``corporate orphans'' - solid companies that no longer fit with their current owners.
Adcuram bought Kautex from Neuhausen Rhine Falls, Switzerland-based SIG Holding Ltd. in May. SIG is focusing on its core business of beverage packaging.
Kautex generated 2003 sales of $48 million and employs about 200.
Meise said Adcuram Beteiligungs invests money from European families and institutional investors, mainly from Germany. Typically, the equity firm does just one or two acquisitions a year, and those are ``very much in sort of the classical industries, like machinery, automotive, electrical,'' he said. Adcuram officials take an active role in the companies.
Meise cited several reasons for the Kautex purchase.
``We feel that Kautex is really known worldwide,'' Meise said. ``Second is a very strong local presence in the key markets, with businesses in Germany, in Italy, in the U.K. and China. Also the product range - we did a lot of evaluation and we felt that this was leading-edge technology and products.''
Meise said Adcuram has no plans to resume U.S. assembly of Kautex machines. SIG ended assembly in North Branch two years ago.
Wolfgang Meyer, president of Kautex Machines, said North American business is picking up. One growth area is in small, multilayer fuel tanks for snowmobiles and gasoline-powered lawn equipment. Meyer said those tanks are following tight emission regulations of automotive fuel tanks.
Now Kautex is gearing up for K 2004. Officials have secured a booth for Kautex as an independent company at the October show in Dsseldorf, Germany. Kautex will run an SB8 three-dimensional, suction blow molding machine making tubular parts for a high-temperature application.
Meanwhile, Meise said Adcuram is not going to purchase SIG's Blowtec business, which makes blow molding machines for polyethylene bottles and other packaging. Under a deal announced in late April, Adcuram was to buy Blowtec along with Kautex. But the deal fell apart, and a German newspaper reported that Adcuram had sued SIG Holding, alleging that SIG did not provide complete financial documentation about Blowtec.
``The fact is, the sale is null and void,'' Meise said. He declined to comment further.
A court-appointed trustee has been running Blowtec, after the firm filed for receivership July 6, according to German news reports.