Our sales-based ranking of North American rotational molders in this week's issue includes a few changes at the top: a tie for No. 1 between Step2 Co. LLC and Toter Inc., and a big move up for Little Tikes Co. A glance at the chart on Page 10 makes that clear.
What you won't see is the major consolidation among tank rotomolders. Private equity firm Olympus Partners launched a major roll-up of tank makers in 2008 by gobbling up the two biggest players, Snyder Industries Inc. and Norwesco Inc.
Last year, Olympus opened the purse strings again with two more tank-related acquisitions: The tank manufacturing division of Rotonics Manufacturing Inc., and Promens hf's six U.S. rotomolding plants. (A management group later bought five of the six Promens factories, leaving Olympus with one. See the Page 1 profile on Indiana Rotomolding). Those operations have been folded into Snyder and Norwesco.
If you add it all up, that would make Olympus by far the largest North American rotomolder, with sales of about $240 million — about $100 million more than Step2 or Toter. But you won't find that in the ranking.
Why not? We are listing Snyder and Norwesco as separate companies, even though Olympus owns both. Our reasoning is that they remain independent businesses, with their own veteran management teams. Listing them separately gives readers more detail.
While it's likely that common ownership gives them greater clout when buying resin, it would make no sense to list “Olympus Partners” as a single rotomolder.
This year we are including footnotes spelling out the Olympus angle for Snyder, Norwesco and Rotonics.
One of the fun things about our rankings is the “scorecard” aspect. Who moves up, who moves down. It's our version of ESPN's SportsCenter — for rotomolding aficionados. (Who needs Joey Votto when you have Bob Dunne?)
This year Little Tikes moves way, way up — so far that it's likely to raise some eyebrows. Historically, Tikes officials refused to talk to Plastics News about their numbers. For years, we listed them at a whopping $200 million in estimated rotomolding-related sales. But in 2005 we launched a major research effort to get more realistic sales, of $90 million, again flagged as a PN and industry estimate. In subsequent years, that dropped to $65 million. We had our reasons: Tikes' sales included more injection molding content, and less from rotomolding, as it expanded its smaller-toy sourcing from China, and we gained more insight from industry experts, including former Tikes management employees.
After we published the ranking last year, General Manager Tom Richmond called to say that Tikes' rotomolded-content sales and total sales are actually much higher. We sat down and he spelled it out. So we changed the sales number, which Richmond provided.
And now Little Tikes stands at No. 3, with $121 million in rotomolding sales.