Universal Plastics Corp., a Massachusetts-based heavy-gauge thermoformer, is expanding its processing capabilities through the purchase of Sajar Plastics LLC.
Sajar, based in Middlefield, Ohio, specializes in gas-assist injection molding, making large and complex parts.
“All of our customers who buy thermoforming also buy gas-assist injection molding,” said Jay Kumar, president of Holyoke-based Universal Plastics. “When I heard that Sajar was for sale, and I knew about its incredibly strong reputation, I pounced on it.”
Many Universal Plastics customers start out with custom thermoforming and graduate to injection molding if their product volumes increase. Sajar's low-volume gas-assist capabilities gives Universal the opportunity to support customers further along the product life cycle, Kumar said.
In addition, the companies can help guide customers to the best process for specific applications, he said.
“We want to give process-agnostic advice to all of our customers. We don't care if we do injection molding or thermoforming,” Kumar said.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sajar Plastics will continue to operate. The acquisition closed on June 30.
Universal has a sister thermoforming company, Mayfield Plastics Inc. of Sutton, Mass.
“Sajar's synergies with our existing thermoforming businesses, Universal and Mayfield, are plenty — a strong management team, sound business processes and a commitment to top quality products are what we are going to build upon,” Kumar said in a news release.
Molding Business Services of Florence, Mass., advised Sajar Plastics on the transaction.
The seller is Main Street Capital Holdings, a Pittsburgh-based private equity firm. Main Street has owned Sajar since October 2008.
Larry Nowak, who joined Sajar as president and CEO in 2011, will stay with the company and continue to run the Middlefield plant.
Nowak said Main Street decided to sell now because of a generational change at the firm. Don Jenkins and Gerry Prado, who co-founded Main Street, are retiring and turning over the business to their children. So the firm is selling their portfolio of investments and leaving the next generation with a clean slate.
Main Street bought Sajar during the Great Recession, and the first few years were difficult, Nowak said.
“They're committed investors, they stay in a business for however long it takes,” Nowak said. “They wanted to make sure they had a healthy growing company again before they let it go. That's what Universal bought, a healthy growing company.”
Universal, Mayfield and Sajar are sister companies to Wembly Enterprises LLC, an entity led by Sunil and Jay Kumar. Other businesses in the group include Bradford Industries Inc., a maker of coated fabrics and textiles, Nylon Corp. of America of Manchester, N.H., and Shawsheen Coating and Converting of Andover, Mass.
Universal Plastics and Mayfield Plastics combined have annual sales of about $25 million and 150 employees at two plants, Kumar said. Key end markets include aerospace, medical device manufacturers, transportation, consumer products, food packaging and electronic companies.
Sajar Plastics has estimated sales of $16 million, according to Plastics News data, with 17 presses at one 150,000-square-foot plant in Middlefield. Sajar has roughly 100 employees, Nowak said.
The company was founded in 1949 and became one of three original companies that developed gas-assist molding in the 1980s. About half of the company's sales involve gas-assist molding, Nowak said.
Key end markets include medical, laboratory and diagnostic, manufacturing, business, and retail registers/dispensing machines.
“We make our living on large, complex, aesthetically demanding parts,” Nowak said. Sajar offers multiple gas assist technologies, including traditional internal gas assist, and also external, gas-counterpressure and more exotic processes.
“What's kind of unique is we can use multiple forms of gas assist in the same mold in the same part,” Nowak said. “We can make a part with complex curves, textures, glosses... it depends on the taste of the ultimate customer.”
About 60 percent of the parts Sajar makes undergo post-mold finishing, including painting, assembly or electromagnetic shielding, Nowak said.
Kumar said reaction to the deal from Universal and Sajar customers has been positive.
“There's a decent amount of overlap. Far more than I expected, and I was happy to see that. It meant the thesis [for combining the companies] was sound,” he said. “For the customers that buy both thermoforming and gas-assist molding, they seem to like the rationale a lot.”
Nowak said Main Street talked to multiple prospective buyers before settling on Universal Plastics.