Acquiring an injection molder in Jackson, Ohio, gave New Brunswick, N.J., home products company Mr. Ice Bucket more flexibility in the production process and opened doors to expansion.
Mr. Ice Bucket began shifting production to Jackson Plastics Corp. after its owner, Frederick Haleluk, bought the plant through a separate company he created, Lancaster Commercial Products LLC. That 2013 deal also included competing hospitality product lines under the Lancaster Colony name.
For Mr. Ice Bucket, the acquisition was also about reclaiming business lost to its competitor when a series of fires — three in 10 years — caused sales delays, said Robert Haleluk, Frederick's son and vice president at Jackson Plastics.
“We were essentially getting back those accounts that we lost at the same time as growing our own business and becoming a much larger player in the hospitality and restaurant business,” he said.
Lancaster continues to operate as a separate company, serving primarily the hotel and restaurant industries with its well-known Wescon line, with Mr. Ice Bucket continuing to cover the retail and home products markets.
“Mr. Ice Bucket is still its own company, Lancaster is its own company, but we have Jackson in the middle of all this,” Haleluk said.
With in-house manufacturing, Mr. Ice Bucket is able to tweak designs and solve manufacturing challenges faster and more cheaply than working with a third-party molder.
“We were looking to have more control over some of the items that we knew we could make better,” Haleluk said. “… It was easier for [Lancaster] to pull the trigger along the way to make those changes and transitions, whereas Mr. Ice Bucket was always working with a third-party molder or somebody else that would have to recommend changes or suggestions to a tool. But now that we have that in-house on the Mr. Ice Bucket side, it's allowing us to do a lot more.”