Continuing a recent expansion course in Europe, zipper-profile manufacturer Zip-Pak has purchased the reclosables division of Supreme Plastics Ltd., gaining plants in England and Spain.
Zip-Pak, owned by conglomerate Illinois Tool Works Inc., bought the division July 25 for an undisclosed price. The sale brings about 90 employees to the large manufacturer of zippers for plastic packaging and adds new products and technology, said Robert Hogan, Zip-Pak director of international sales and marketing.
``They have proprietary technology in different areas than we were in,'' Hogan said in a July 27 telephone interview. ``The local product-development capabilities that we'll have to support our customers will be much greater than what we could do from the United States.''
The deal joins two midsize plastic zipper manufacturers that compete in a crowded but fast-growing field. The growth in zippers for resealable bags and such products as slider closures for pouches have made the field a major innovator within flexible packaging.
Supreme Plastics extrudes zipper profiles with narrow flanges, in sizes as large as about one-half inch, for food and consumer products, Hogan said. Zip-Pak's zippers primarily are made in larger sizes, and there is not a lot of overlap between the businesses.
Based in Manteno, Ill., Zip-Pak has four U.S. production facilities and a plant in Winschoten, the Netherlands, that opened in January 2004.
The company also makes attachments that add zippers to bags in an in-line process and has sales and stocking offices in Japan, Australia and Brazil, Hogan said.
Zip-Pak needed to establish a greater presence in Western and Eastern Europe, Hogan said. Zip-Pak will add a plant in Whitby, England, and in Murcia, Spain; the latter was known as Supreme Plastics' Plasticos Iberotec subsidiary. The plants make reclosable zippers and slider applicators.
The England facility also includes a development operation. Zip-Pak will use that facility to improve its technology for adding zippers to bags and pouches. As it is, the cycle times to attach zippers to bags has been reduced substantially during the past decade, Hogan said.
Zip-Pak also has grown its U.S. operations this year, buying out the Alliant Reclosables unit of Schaumburg, Ill.-based Pliant Corp. in April. That acquisition included technology and assets and ended patent disputes between the companies. Zip-Pak transferred Pliant's zipper-profiles work from a Pliant plant in Shelbyville, Ind., to several Zip-Pak plants in the United States, Hogan said.
London-based Supreme Plastics retains its large flexibles unit, a maker of printed and specialty film and bags. The company also makes bag-filling equipment and office products. Supreme Plastics officials referred calls on the acquisition to Zip-Pak.
Michael Burton, business unit manager for Zip-Pak's plant in Ottawa, Ill., was named general manager of European operations on the day the sale was announced.
Zip-Pak and its parent, Glenview, Ill.-based ITW, are looking at global expansion opportunities, Hogan said.
Potential growth areas include Europe and Asia, and the company may expand its plants in North America.