Injection molder Continental Plastics Co. is negotiating to sell the 60-year-old firm to a buyer from within the industry.
If successful, the deal could close by the end of April, according to Russ Thomas, Continental's chief operating officer and executive vice president.
Thomas cited the economic downturn and the nature of this [automotive] industry as reasons that the Fraser, Mich.-based firm's owners including President Tony Catenacci and Chairwoman Joan Luckino are looking to sell.
Continental's owners are very saddened by this whole business, but we haven't been able to get over the hump, Thomas said in a Feb. 24 phone interview. They feel it's best to sell and move on.
Continental produces a wide range of interior and exterior parts for the auto industry, including interior trim and door panels. The firm's sales peaked at about $180 million in 2006 and 2007, but had declined to around $90 million as of last year.
Continental's workforce also peaked in size at almost 1,100 in 2007, but today stands at about 600 at five plants four in Michigan and one in Georgia.
Thomas disputed media reports that Continental planned to close its 86-employee plant in Alpharetta, Ga. He said the firm made a filing with the Georgia Department of Labor one that indicated the Alpharetta plant and other Continental locations could close as soon as March 18 because of the potential change in ownership. But he said no decision has been made to close Alpharetta or any of its four Michigan plants, which are located in Fraser, Chesterfield, Benzonia and China Township.
If the deal with the interested buyer who Thomas declined to identify falls through, Continental will have to look at all options, which could include plant closings, he said.
Obviously, we'd like to keep everything operational if we can, Thomas added.
Continental opened its doors in 1951 when Patrick Luckino Joan Luckino's husband hired two employees and began operating two injection presses in a 4,000-square-foot building in Fraser. Luckino passed away in 1981.
The firm expanded to Chesterfield in 1992 after buying injection molder IMC Plastics and moving its operations from Rochester, Mich. The Alpharetta plant opened in 1995 after Continental won a major interior-trim program from General Motors Co., which has a plant in nearby Doraville, Ga.
In 1998, Continental bought Mitchell Manufacturing, an automotive cutting and sewing firm in Benzonia. Continental made its final acquisition in 2001 when it bought Innovative Coating Technology, an automotive coating and metalizing firm in St. Clair, Mich. Work done there was moved to China Township in 2004.