In 2011, the recovery continued for plastics machinery makers. Now two straight years of growth have followed the recession of late 2008 and all of 2009. And machinery officials think sales should increase next year, albeit at a more modest rate.
This year was marked by the funereal auction of HPM in Mount Gilead, Ohio — and its potential rebirth after a Chinese company bought the intellectual property. This year also saw the closing of Kawaguchi USA Inc.
There were not many merger and acquisition deals in plastics machinery in 2011. Graham Packaging Co. Inc. picked up Italian blow molding machinery maker Techne SpA out of liquidation. Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. got a new private equity owner. Negri Bossi SpA bought a fellow Italian company, robot maker Sytrama srl.
But people news abounded in 2011. Machinery makers continued to hire. Some executives got promoted. Others left the plastics equipment industry altogether.
Two companies got brand-new top executives: Mark Steele as CEO of Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc., and David Schroeder as president and CEO of Welex Inc.
Sadly, 2011 was marked by a number of notable deaths: Karl Hehl of Arburg GmbH & Co. KG, Ronald Schroeder of Epco Machinery LLC, Ed Steward of American Kuhne Inc. and machinery veteran Bob Lemke.
Neil Kruschke Jr., former owner and CEO of plastics equipment dealer Stopol Inc., died in an accident.
Early in the year, two salesmen for Davis-Standard LLC died in a single-engine plane crash.
Karl Hehl died. With his brother Eugen, Karl turned the family engineering business in Germany into Arburg, which became an international force in injection molding machinery.
Ronald Schroeder died. He was the co-founder and longtime president of equipment remanufacturer Epco.
Two Davis-Standard salesmen — Stephen Vannais and James Polewchak — died in a single-engine plane crash in Texas.
Gloucester Engineering named Mark Steele as CEO to lead the manufacturer of film equipment.
A Germany-based maker of specialty injection presses and filters, Ettlinger Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH, opened a U.S. office.
A two-day auction of the HPM factory in Mount Gilead generated about $5.2 million. The money for the defunct maker of injection presses, sheet extruders and die-casting machines goes to unpaid taxes and creditors. HPM's intellectual property was purchased by Chinese machinery maker Guangdong Yizumi Precision Machinery Co. Ltd. Later, Yizumi bought a stake in an HPM service company owned by former HPM President William Flickinger.
Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. announced it was buying Austrian closure mold maker KTW Group.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Plastic Technology Co. Ltd. and Chen Hsong Holdings Ltd. agreed to jointly make large hydraulic injection molding machines.
Ed Steward, a noted screw designer and co-founder of extruder maker American Kuhne, died from a heart attack at age 61. To fill his position, American Kuhne hired Kevin Slusarz as process technology vice president.
Graham Packaging Co. Inc. said it was buying Italy-based blow molding machinery company Techne SpA, which had been under court liquidation proceedings.
Bob Lemke, a veteran plastics machinery salesman who ran ABC Lemke Inc., died at age 72. He and his wife, Constantze Flindt Lemke, played a key role in setting up Battenfeld of America in the early 1960s.
Japanese injection press maker Kawaguchi Ltd., notified customers it had closed Kawaguchi USA Inc. Jeff Iwai, Kawaguchi's national service manager, set up Well-Rock Machinery Services LLC, to handle service and parts.
An ownership change of Husky was announced. Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp. sold Husky to Berkshire Partners LLC and Omers Private Equity Inc., an arm of a Canadian pension fund.
Italy-based injection press supplier Negri Bossi SpA bought Sytrama srl, an Italian robot maker.
Robert Weeks, a longtime executive at Gloucester Engineering, was hired as the new president of Reifenhauser Inc.
Welex Inc. named David Schroeder as president, CEO and a director of the maker of sheet extrusion lines.
Toshiba Machine Co. America promoted Tom McKevitt to vice president and general manager.
Neil Kruschke Jr., former owner and CEO of plastics equipment dealer Stopol Inc., died in an accident while using a chainsaw at his log home near Marquette, Mich.
Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH plans to assemble injection molding machines in China by 2013, the Austria-based company announced at a trade show in Shanghai.
Italian blow molding machine maker Automa SpA opened a technical center in Appleton, Wis.