Thermoformer TriEnda Holdings LLC has a new lease on life under new ownership.
The Portage, Wis., company has invested about $2 million on equipment and facility upgrades in the 10 months since it was acquired by Kruger Family Holdings II LLC. It's now poised to explore new markets and products to build on its strength as a producer of reusable industrial packaging such as pallets and shipping containers, according to TriEnda Holdings President David Kruger, also a principal in Kruger Family Holdings.
Kruger Family Holdings was the successful bidder for the Portage business, previously called Lexington Logistics LLC but known for most of its life as TriEnda. Kruger Family Holdings paid $13.5 million last April to lift it out of receivership. Kruger Family Holdings owns most of the company and C3 Capital Partners LP of Kansas City, Mo., mezzanine financier of the deal, is one of the minority shareholders.
“It's a good business but it needed direction,” David Kruger explained in a phone interview. “It has blue chip customers so we don't need to worry a lot about getting new orders.”
Kruger praised TriEnda Holdings' employees, who are highly focused on customer service. With a strong staff, the business only needs adjustments in material costs and production methods, David Kruger indicated. The staff will become even stronger, David Kruger explained, as numerous operators receive training in robotics to more effectively run machinery filling long production run orders. The company employs about 185.
“The customer-first mentality that is ingrained in the culture here was a motivating factor in purchasing the operating assets,” stated David Kruger.
TriEnda Holdings recorded sales of $41 million last year, fairly evenly split between custom thermoforming and proprietary production. Automotive is its biggest single market but it is diverse, producing heavy gauge items, including twin-sheet products, on its 12 thermoforming lines.
The firm mostly forms high density polyethylene sheet supplied by in-house sheet extrusion lines operated by compounder and sheet extruder PolyOne Corp.
PolyOne's four sheet lines in house “help make us more competitive, we're very happy with them,” David Kruger said. The sheet lines and TriEnda Holdings's thermoformers are housed in a 297,000-square-foot building.
David Kruger's father, Warren Kruger, has corporate turnaround experience and an extensive plastics background — two factors that helped convince the family to invest in the Portage operation. Warren Kruger is TriEnda Holdings' chairman but isn't active in day-to-day running of the company. John Brown, who has a background in plastics compounding, is TriEnda Holdings' CEO and a minority shareholder. David Kruger's background is in the financial industry.
“This acquisition reflects our commitment to the material handling industry, and our belief in the renewal of North American manufacturing,” Brown stated in a news release.
The TriEnda business has undergone numerous gyrations in the past 20 years. Problems began in the mid-1990s when the U.S. Postal Service delayed a large order of hundreds of thousands of thermoformed plastic pallets. Ironically, the postal service is now a key customer.
In 2012, TriEnda's officers were replaced by Boston Finance Group after TriEnda's owner, Spara LLC defaulted on loans. In 2013 Spara regained control of the company, which had been renamed TriEnda/Lexington Logistics LLC. Officials then hired an investment bank to help sell the business but those efforts failed and TriEnda/Lexington Logistics went into Wisconsin Chapter 128 receivership in February 2014. Kruger Family Holdings beat out seven other bidders in auction and completed the sale in April.
Not included in the sale was a former plant in Marion, Ind., that TriEnda bought in 2008 and in which it sank $20 million in retrofits before the facility closed in 2011 after Spara skipped lease payments. The Marion equipment was subsequently sold.
TriEnda was founded 40 years ago.