North America's largest bus manufacturer likes one of its composites suppliers so much it bought the business. The purchase also will help it meet Buy America content rules to soon take force.
New Flyer Industries Inc. has acquired Carlson Engineered Composites Inc. for US$13 million. Both companies are based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with extensive U.S. operations.
"We've grown the use of fiberglass-reinforced plastics and they are becoming more and more important all the time," said New Flyer group vice president of supply management David White in a phone interview.
Carlson Engineered's sales exceeded US$38 million last year. In addition to its Winnipeg headquarters plant, it produces FRP composites in St. Cloud, Minn., and Anniston, Ala. Carlson employs more than 300 in production facilities with total area of 235,000 square feet. White said the U.S. operations together are about the size of Carlson Engineered's Winnipeg production operation.
Carlson Engineered has been supplying New Flyer for about 30 years, White said. Carlson Engineered's facilities in Winnipeg and the United States are all near New Flyer assembly operations, making it easy for just-in-time delivery of bus composite components.
Although Carlson Engineeed has been a long-time, responsive supplier, White said the purchase underlines New Flyer's strategy to do more components production in house.
"The acquisition of Carlson will allow us to control one of the more critical commodities in our manufacturing supply chain," White explained.
"This acquisition follows on the very successful repatriation and in-sourcing of various metal part fabrication, machining and painting operations across the company to control quality, improve delivery performance and reduce costs for our bus manufacturing operations."
"[Carlson Engineered's] U.S. facilities will also contribute to the company complying with the increasing U.S. content requirements under increased Buy America regulations resulting from the 2015 FAST Act for the purchase of transit buses and motor coaches by U.S. federally-funded transit agencies."
New Flyer also expects Carlson Engineered to share best composite manufacturing practices with Frank Fair Industries Ltd., an FRP composites maker in Winnipeg owned by New Flyer affiliate Motor Coach Industries Ltd.
New Flyer is North America's biggest heavy-duty transit bus producer while Motor Coach is the leader in motor coach-type buses in Canada and the United States, according to New Flyer. New Flyer actively supports more than 44,000 heavy-duty transit buses currently in service, while Motor Coach supports more than 28,000 of its types of buses. In addition to bus manufacturing, spare parts and repairs are also large FRP composites consumers.
New Flyer bought Carlson Engineered from Neil Carlson, chairman of the company he founded in 1985. The firm started out in industrial and custom part fabrication then diversified into water and sewage tank manufacturing. Next came a line of truck caps and recreational vehicle parts, followed by its entry into FRP components and sub-assemblies for the transportation industry.
"Our team has developed a tradition of integrity, execution and profitable growth and has been committed to maintaining a competitive advantage through education, innovation and technology," Neil Carlson said in a June 1 news release.
"Joining the New Flyer family is the next logical step to support further growth and explore new technologies."
New Flyer and Motor Coach logged sales of US$572.1 million in the first quarter ended April 2, up 3.4 percent from a year earlier. Net earnings at US$37.9 million were 67.8 percent higher. In the first quarter they delivered 892 new buses and coaches and 65 pre-owned coaches.