Wilbert Plastic Services Inc. has acquired injection molder Easley Custom Plastics of Easley, S.C.
In a June 27 telephone interview, Wilbert President and CEO Greg Botner said the deal will strengthen Belmont, N.C.-based Wilbert's growth plan in the Southeast, a strategic penetration point for the company.
“It added completely a new customer base for us” in the company's existing markets, “and we found the quality of their people and production processes to be complementary,” he said. “We liked the idea that [the acquisition] added paint capacity.”
The acquisition give Wilbert diversified capabilities, including small- to large-part capacity, multishot processing, assembly, robotic painting, and global supply-chain management, Botner said.
He would not disclose how much Wilbert paid for ECP.
Under President Craig Homan, equity group CH Industries Inc. in 2004 bought McKechnie Plastic Components' Easley-based molding unit from the Alcester, England-based firm and renamed the business Easley Custom Plastics.
ECP employs 200 and supplies a variety of industries, including building and construction, automotive, hand and power tools, and recreation. The firm operates a 250,000-square-foot plant that lies along the Interstate 85 corridor, which runs through South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
Easley ranked No. 115 among North American injection molders in Plastics News' recent survey, with related sales estimated at about $36 million in 2010.
Wilbert employs about 900 at eight U.S. sites divided between heavy-gauge thermoforming and injection molding plants. The company is a national supplier to the agricultural, automotive, building products, industrial equipment, consumer products, electronics, health-care, recreational vehicle and watercraft, waste management and custom parts markets.
Wilbert is a relative newcomer to the Southeast corporate scene: It moved its headquarters from Broadview, Ill., to North Carolina in 2010. In 2009, Wilbert Inc., the holding company of Wilbert Plastic Services and burial vault maker Wilbert Funeral Services Inc., spun off the burial vault business. The vault operation remains in Illinois and buys plastic vault liners from Wilbert Plastic Services.
“In 2008, like many companies, we got ourselves into a financially stressed position,” Botner said. “Since then [we] have performed a total financial turnaround, as well as an operational turnaround, and have really focused Wilbert to be a solutions provider ... by adding engineering and technical capabilities in addition to strengthening our operations from a performance standpoint.”
2010 was a better year, businesswise, than 2009 for the company. Wilbert became a direct supplier to automakers Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. Recent resin price volatility, however, has been a major concern, especially on the thermoforming side, which is more dependent on variables like sheet supplier pass-throughs than the injection molding side of the business, he said.
“Who would have ever thought we'd see polypropylene go over $1 a pound?” Botner said. “So far, we've weathered [price increases] and we have gotten a substantial amount of recovery, but it has had a definite impact.”
Wilbert ranked No. 18 among North American-based thermoformers and No. 51 among injection molders in PN's most recent rankings, with related plastics sales of about $220 million for those combined operations.