But Anton Paar said it's most interested in the company for its materials testing and measuring equipment. That equipment is used by — in addition to plastics and rubber processors — the food, feed and chemical industries, for batteries and other applications. Anton Paar noted Brabender extruders are even used to develop alternative protein sources for use in meat substitutes.
"The decisive factor for Anton Paar's decision to purchase Brabender was the know-how in the development and production of world-leading measuring instruments," Anton Paar CEO Friedrich Santner said in a news release.
Brabender and its 200 employees will be integrated under the name Anton Paar TorqueTec GmbH. Brabender executive director David Szczesny said in the news release that joining Anton Paar will open up many new opportunities, especially in product research and development.
Graz, Austria-based Anton Paar has 11 manufacturing sites in the U.S. and Europe and employed more than 4,000 before the acquisition. The 101-year-old company is owned by the charitable Santner Foundation.
In toolmaking, Udine, Italy-based toolmaker Self Group srl acquired Baxter, Minn.-based toolmaker Avantech Inc. for about $8 million to have a presence in North America and add capabilities to serve rotational molders. Founded in 1950, Self Group specializes in manufacturing large-dimension tooling for thermoforming, compression and reaction injection molding processing.
Avantech, founded in 1988 as Lakeland Mold, started out producing cast and computer numerically controlled-cut aluminum tooling and molds for rotational molding customers, which grew to include John Deere, Toro, Igloo and Old Town Canoe Co. In 2014, the company rebranded as Avantech to reflect its added services for product development and tool repair.
With the deal, Avantech will see immediate growth with the transfer of toolmaking opportunities currently going to Italy, while Self Group will expand by entering the European rotational mold market, according to Self Group CEO Andrea Zonta.
In a second-half equipment deal, Big Chief Inc., a fabricator and distributor of industrial thermal equipment for plastics processors, was sold to private equity firm Gryphon Investors.
Gryphon has investments in more than 30 companies spanning from plastics to health care. The San Francisco firm closed the Big Chief deal through an umbrella company it launched for the occasion, Thermal Technology Distribution Solutions. Terms were not disclosed.
Jeff Howe, former chief commercial officer of Big Chief and now its president, said Gryphon is just what his company was searching for in a buyer: "They were the obvious choice. We were looking for someone intent on growing the business with Big Chief as its platform."
Craig Nikrant, operating partner of Gryphon's small-cap Heritage Fund, said Gryphon already has identified opportunities to grow Big Chief, both organically and by "pursuing add-on acquisitions that complement BC's core strengths and enable it to scale rapidly."