A 38-year-old film plant in Massachusetts has a new owner just a few months after workers voted for representation by the Teamsters union.
The seller is RKW Danafilms, part of Frankenthal, Germany-based RKW SE. Following the divestment, RKW Danafilms changed its name to RKW North America.
The company said the new name reflects its solid position in the North American blown film market.
Inteplast Group of Livingston, N.J., bought the Westborough, Mass., plant, and now is operating that business as Danafilms Corp. Inteplast said the deal solidifies its presence in the industrial films market.
The deal between the two major film companies came to the surface after RKW announced the name change without mentioning the fate of the Westborough plant.
RKW emphasized that the union drive was not the impetus for the divestment.
“The divestment of the Westborough plant allows RKW to focus its business and investments on the [coextruded] films offered out of Franklin, Ky., whilst keeping much of its traditional monolayer films business,” a company spokeswoman said in an email to Plastics News.
“This focus is [in] line with market trends and growth opportunities for the high-performance barrier films previously offered under the brand Danafilms.”
The name change builds on the strong RKW brand, “so well known in Europe, and which is [in] line with RKW's global businesses,” she added.
RKW Group entered the North American market in 2010 when it bought Danafilms Inc., which was based in Westborough and also had a plant in Franklin, which had opened in 2000.
RKW's North American business now is based in Franklin. Erik Powell, vice president and general manager of RKW North America, said the Franklin plant can accommodate several additional extrusion lines, and that the location has space to significantly increase the plant size.
RWK North America makes customized monolayer and coextruded films. Plastics News had estimated RKW Danafilms' sales at $98 million.
Deal with Inteplast
Inteplast Group acquired the Westborough plant on May 8 and is continuing to operate the facility.
Inteplast, based in Livingston, N.J., ranks No. 3 in Plastics News' listing of the largest film and sheet manufacturers in North America, with estimated related sales of $2.22 billion.
Inteplast has more than 50 manufacturing plants and 7,000 employees, but most of its film is manufactured at its massive 525-acre site in Lolita, Texas, where it has plants with a combined annual capacity of more than 1 billion pounds.
Inteplast Group President John Young said the Danafilms acquisition “solidifies our presence in the industrial films market.
“We recognize that we are gaining a complementary array of film capabilities and, even more importantly, a dedicated and professional workforce,” Young said in a news release.
The business now is led by Dale Brockman, who was named president of Danafilms Corp.
Danafilms was founded in 1970 in Marlborough, Mass., as a custom supplier of extruded blown film for a diverse range of applications. The company relocated to Westborough in 1977.
“I have always respected Danafilms' founder Sherman Olson, whom I knew by reputation as a legendary pioneer in customs films,” Young said. “His perseverance and excellent reputation with customers and employees alike are certainly legacies that we wish to foster not only at Danafilms but also throughout our group.”
Exactly what role the union drive in Westborough had on RKW's decision to divest the plant, and how Inteplast will deal with the union going forward, are still unclear.
Teamsters Local 170 announced on June 30 that it had won an election to represent a bargaining unit of 44 workers at the Westborough plant. The election was held in April, but the ballots were impounded while the National Labor Relations Board investigated several complaints. The ballots were counted June 29, and the union won by a count of 23-13, according to the union.
“This is an important victory for Danafilms workers, especially after such a tough campaign and numerous unfair labor practices committed by the company,” said Mike Hogan, secretary-treasurer of Local 170 in Worcester, Mass., according to a news release.
A union official said Inteplast is trying to challenge the results of the election. A hearing on the issue has taken place, and the two sides are awaiting a decision from the National Labor Relations Board.
Inteplast officials emphasized that the union drive and election took place under RKW's watch.
“It is unfortunate that there was labor discontent prior to our acquisition and that the union election took place prior to our taking over this plant,” said Brenda Wilson, Inteplast's senior director of communications and human resources. “Given our long track record of labor fairness and our care for employees, we feel it would never have happened under our watch.”
Inteplast Group was founded in 1991. The company has three divisions: AmTopp, Integrated Bagging Systems and World-Pak, and calls itself the largest manufacturer of integrated plastics in North America.