PVC pipe maker National Pipe & Plastics Inc. of Vestal, N.Y., now is 100 percent management-owned, as President Dave Culbertson has purchased all shares.
Culbertson discussed the transaction in a Feb. 23 telephone interview, but did not disclose terms. Financing was arranged through Wells Fargo Business Credit.
``We represented the best prospects for the future growth of the company,'' he said.
New York-based Sojitz Corp. of America sold the pipe company. Sojitz had considered selling the firm to outside buyers, said Culbertson, who has been president since 2003.
``We are no longer on the market because management does not have a desire to sell this business,'' Culbertson said. ``On the contrary, we have long-range plans that are attractive to keeping the company. We have gone beyond becoming stable and we are now able to grow in a controlled environment.''
National now will be managed under an open-book system, which Culbertson and management have seen work for another PVC pipe producer.
``There is no confidentiality anymore,'' Culbertson said. ``We have gone to all our employees and said they can see anything and say anything they want about the business.''
Key officials at the company include Chuck Miller, executive vice president of manufacturing, and Chief Financial Officer Shelley Suer. The pair, plus 15 key managers and 300 employees, now are involved in the day-to-day management of the business.
``I think as long as we continue to build the relationships that we've had over the past two years, we will easily be able to compete with integrated producers,'' Culbertson said.
``We have something to offer the marketplace as being wholly American owned. By being independent, we have the flexibility to enter into ventures with a variety of different partners,'' he said. ``We are in the process of doing that. The ventures in the long term will provide us with diversity that will secure our place in each of the markets where we have a presence.''
Management has made changes in the business during the past year, moving roughly $7 million worth of equipment from an idle site in Thomasville, Ga., to active plants in Vestal and Colfax, N.C.
It increased capacity by 20 million pounds at Colfax, adding three extruders from Thomasville, one large chiller and two air compressors. Officials also have moved newer downstream equipment from Thomasville to New York as they have pursued lean manufacturing.
``National Pipe is a profitable company and will continue,'' Culbertson said. ``In the last year and a half, we have completed a turnaround that has been significant.
The firm will invest more equipment in in-line rather than off-line testing. Officials have converted two off-line testers to in-line, reducing labor needs.
National Pipe makes 230 million pounds of pipe per year, for end markets including water, sewer, electrical and plumbing. It reported $100 million in pipe sales in Plastics News' 2004 ranking of pipe, profile and tubing extruders.
Nissho Iwai Corp. of Tokyo acquired National in 1997 and had operated it as part of its New York-based subsidiary Nissho Iwai American Corp. The Japanese firm's U.S. subsidiary merged with trading company Nichimen America Inc. about a year ago to create Sojitz.