Ed Brownley has been in the strapping business a long time with his partner Pete Silvester. And he knows his own mortality.
While he's not planning to leave PAC Strapping Products Inc. anytime soon, he also saw the need to plan ahead.
So with that in mind, Brownley and his partner have sold their plastic strapping business, with locations in Exton, Pa., and Lancaster, S.C., to Fromm Holding AG of Cham, Switzerland. The South Carolina site operates as U.S. Strapping Co. Inc.
"Certainly, every privately held business needs a succession plan and we wanted to be part of the succession plan. So we started this process a couple of years ago, actually. We ended up where we wanted to be," Brownley said.
"We wanted to be part of a larger, strategic company. One that was in the business. We think the combination between our company and the Fromm organization will be a very powerful force in the marketplace," he said.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed by Brownley in an April 19 interview, but he did indicate he will continue at the company.
"I'm not leaving. I'm not going anywhere. I'm pretty much doing the same job I was always doing. They plan to keep management in place and keep the names in place," Brownley said.
Brownley and Silvester both formerly worked at Fortune 500 companies when they set out to take control of their own business lives more than 35 years ago with the start of their new company. Initial work, starting in 1982, involved making metal buckles for metal strapping.
The company, which now has about 110 employees at its two sites, initially became involved in plastic strapping manufacturing in 1993 and has seen that material gain market share over time.
Brownly estimated that 75 percent of the market uses plastic strapping, which accounts for the vast majority of the company's revenue these days.
"We're primarily a plastic strapping manufacturer," he said, that also provides a comprehensive line of tools, machines and accessories made by others.
Fromm is a global player in packaging systems, including strapping and strapping machinery. Other product lines include protective packaging, pallet wrapping equipment and automated packaging machinery.
Fromm already does business in the United States, but the acquisition will give the firm a more substantial presence.
"They are a global player and if you are really truly going to be a global player you want to be really active and a significant player in the North American market. And I think this expands that," Brownley said.
The PAC Strapping partners have been considering succession planning for the past couple of years.
"I don't know about you, but I'm probably not going to live forever. Someday I will want to retire. And we have a responsibility to our employees, to our customers. Instead of being just allowing it to happen, and watching it, we wanted to have an active part in where we ended up. And we're delighted where we ended up," Brownley said.
"It was time to plan, and throughout our entire business career, we've always been planners," he added.
Fromm is a family-owned company that dates to 1947. "We were really looking for a company that had the same or similar culture. We're really a customer-centric and a customer-focused culture and we're convinced that Fromm is also, so it all makes sense," Brownley said.