ITW to sell off Wilsonart International
GLENVIEW, ILL. Illinois Tool Works Inc. plans to sell its decorative surfaces business, including Wilsonart International Inc., which manufactures various surfaces like kitchen counters and laminate flooring.
Several companies have inquired about buying Temple, Texas-based Wilsonart, and ITW officials feel now might be a good time to sell, said ITW spokeswoman Alison Donnelly in an Aug. 12 telephone interview.
The company's core focus is manufacturing and business-to-business work, Donnelly said. ``We don't have as much experience with direct-to-consumer products like Wilsonart. We feel it would be better-owned by a company with that focus.''
Glenview-based ITW acquired Wilsonart in 1999. Last year, Wilsonart had sales of $1.2 billion and operating margins of 13 percent.
The entire ITW decorative surfaces group has 16 business units worldwide, with the majority of sales in North America, the company said. In addition to Wilsonart, ITW also operates Polyrey SAS of Paris and Resopal GmbH of Gross-Umstadt, Germany, in these areas: France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Thailand and China.
``The decorative surfaces group has a variety of premium brands and is a very valuable asset. As a result, we have received a number of inquiries about the laminate businesses from potential buyers over the years,'' said David Speer, ITW chairman and chief executive officer, in a news release
Auto executives still bullish on Russia
TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. The auto industry sees Russia as one of its bright areas for future growth, with Chrysler LLC President Tom LaSorda citing its potential to overtake Germany as the largest car market in Europe.
``Russia is an oil-producing country, and Russians are using their new oil wealth to finance a big growth in new vehicles,'' LaSorda said during an Aug. 13 speech at the auto industry's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
But the bulk of the news out of Russia last week wasn't about cars, instead it was regular reports on the growing battle between Russia and Georgia.
The Russian auto industry is centered far from the fighting, but companies including TI Automotive Ltd., which is building a new fluid carrying system facility in St. Petersburg, Russia are watching the news closely to keep an eye on developments.
While executives are quick to note that they are staying out of the political realm of discussions, TI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Kozyra noted that business realities will keep the auto industry building in the region.
``You have to deal with those issues and hope that they will be worked out, but at the end of the day, our customers are expecting us to follow them there,'' he said.
Germany's Mann+Hummel GmbH launched its first production in Russia last year, making fuel filters for the expanding Russian market.
Deal combines British Columbia molders
SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA Vanguard Plastics Ltd. has boosted its proprietary injection molding business by acquiring Primex Manufacturing Ltd. of Langley, British Columbia.
Surrey-based Vanguard completed the deal Aug. 1 for undisclosed terms, said Vanguard President Bob Smart.
``[The purchase] offers further diversification under the overall construction umbrella,'' Smart said in a telephone interview.
Primex's proprietary products include telecommunications housings, modular jacks, wire management products and accessories. Vanguard's lineup includes window and door hardware, shelf supports and plastic-handled shopping baskets.
Vanguard and its subsidiary, Premo Plastics Ltd., run 26 injection presses with clamping forces up to 500 tons. The two firms employ about 75, according to Smart. Premo of Victoria, British Columbia, injection molds nursery containers, pharmaceutical vials and aerial ignition products to control forest fires. TriWest Capital Partners of Calgary, Alberta, is majority owner of Vanguard, which bought Premo in 2005.
Primex operates 26 presses, the biggest being a 900-tonner. The 45-employee business was owned by Juergen Koessler, who continues to hold a minority position and is working as a consultant for Vanguard.
Koessler said he sold the majority stake in Primex because his children are not poised to take over the business as he ages.