It's been 18 months since Cleveland private equity firm Riverside Co. bought a majority stake in Coeur Inc., a medical injection molder based in Lebanon, Tenn. And, so far, both sides are more than satisfied with the results of the late-2008 deal.
Since then, Coeur has moved its administrative offices and research and development work to a larger site in Lebanon, and added a second clean manufacturing area at its plant in Washington, N.C. The company has installed a new seal-packaging machine there. Coeur also operates a site in Sheboygan, Wis.
We're OK on space in Wisconsin, but things are getting tight in North Carolina, President and CEO Jay Cude said in a recent phone interview.
Coeur now employs more than 160 in total. In the last 12 months, the firm has added key positions in sales, new business development and product management. Coeur also recently added a new quality assurance director and vice president of new business.
In 2009, Coeur rang up sales of more than $31 million. The firm expects sales growth of more than 10 percent in 2010.
Its presence in the health-care market is the reason for the company's optimism. Demand in that sector continues to grow, resulting from an aging U.S. population and increased use of home health-care products.
Coeur's lineup of single-use disposable products includes power syringes and tubing products. The 12-year-old business sells to medical-device original equipment manufacturers, medical products distributors, hospitals and other medical businesses. Materials used in Coeur's products include polycarbonate, polypropylene and PVC.
We've designed and developed our own power syringes and fluid-delivery devices, said Cude, who owns a minority stake in the business. Over the years, we've developed expertise in surgical and orthopedic products.
Coeur has several additional tubing products in development, including new models and ones that are improvements on existing ones.
At the end of the day, we don't see ourselves as a supplier of medical components, Cude said. We're medical people with plastics experience.
Cude's brother Michael serves as Coeur's executive vice president and also owns a minority stake in the business, as do two other executives. That group and a private equity partner bought the company in 1998, about 10 years after it had opened. Coeur nearly doubled in size in 2004 when it acquired its Sheboygan site from VPI LLC.
The Cude brothers have been active with plastics trade groups over their careers. Jay currently is vice chair of the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Michael has served as chairman of the medical division of the Society of Plastics Engineers and is currently a board member of SPE's medical plastics division.
Looking back on the last 18 months, Cude said he's real pleased to be with Riverside, adding that the new majority owner takes a long view on investments.
Riverside partner Steve Dyke said that his firm has been happy with Coeur's performance so far.
We're looking for add-ons to leverage [Coeur's] common customers and engineering capability, Dyke said in a recent interview at Riverside's Cleveland office. It's a key initiative for us. We'd like to get at least one add-on done this year.
2010 also might be a better atmosphere for private equity than 2008 and 2009 were.
Credit markets are loosening up a little bit, Dyke added. And earnings are coming up.
Longer term, Coeur is looking for opportunities outside of the U.S. and Europe. The firm recently set up a sales and distribution presence in Shanghai.
We'd like to have a facility in Asia in the future, Cude said. There are a lot of health-care opportunities in China, India and Korea.
He added that Coeur already has a permit for light manufacturing in Shanghai, but isn't looking for a production site as of yet.
Riverside owns three other plastics-related firms among its portfolio of more than 30 companies. All three are involved in processing: Commonwealth Laminating & Coating Inc. of Martinsville, Va.; Connor Sport Court International of Salt Lake City; and Stoffel Seals Corp. of Nyack, N.Y.
Riverside was involved in another plastics-related deal last year when it sold Hudson-Sharp Machine Co., a producer of bag-making machines in Green Bay, Wis.
We generally hold companies for five to seven years, but we hold some for longer, Dyke said. Every business stands alone.
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