Omaha, Neb.-based Adler Industrial Solutions Inc., a newcomer to the tooling and mold industry, has made its first acquisition with the purchase of Shorts Tool & Mfg. Inc. in Saegertown, Pa.
Officials from Adler, formed in December 2020, plan to build a network of companies with complementary capabilities that they say together can better service customers.
The Shorts deal gives Adler a presence in western Pennsylvania, a critical region for toolmaking talent and an important center of American manufacturing, officials of the privately held company said.
Terms of the transaction weren't disclosed.
Founded in 2001, Shorts is a manufacturer of close-tolerance and multicavity plastic injection molds and ancillary products primarily for the medical, consumer goods, aerospace and industrial end markets.
Shorts operates out of a 15,000-square foot facility, according to the company website.
Adler acquired all of Shorts, except for the real estate, and will retain the 21 employees with plans to later add more personnel, according to founder and CEO Philipp Gruner.
"The highly skilled employee base is the company's best resource," Gruner said. "All employees will continue to have a place of employment and we intend to add on to the team as we are expanding capacity and quality."
Gruner previously owned and operated KG Technologies Inc., a supplier of electromechanical relays that was listed as the 49th-fastest-growing company in the U.S. by Inc.com.
KG was sold in May 2015.
Gruner said his previous manufacturing experience gave him a deep appreciation for the toolmaking trade, which inspired him to create Adler and invest in the tooling and mold industry. After launching more than 1,000 tools in his lifetime, ranging from progressive dies, die casts, molds, fixtures and gauges, Gruner said he sees the mold making world through the customers' eyes.
"KG Technologies suffered in 2007 when a product launch was delayed due to an inferior supplier," Gruner said, adding that he knows the pains that customers can experience firsthand.
"Understanding that delays cost more than just headaches, it's our mission to build a company that customers can depend on for a quality product with timely delivery," he said.
Shorts serves very demanding customers, which speaks to the quality of the team and their individual skills, Gruner said.
"This really attracted us to Shorts," he added.
Shorts is an excellent first transaction for Adler to build upon because it already has a world-class workforce and customer base, Gruner said. He expects manufacturing operations to become more efficient with planned investments in improved machinery, tools, software and processes.
"We are investing in everything from A to Z, big to small, starting with new pin sets to new comparators and a new hole popper, better microscopes for the inspecting and polishing departments, new gauges and new grinders for the entire grinding department. We now are upgrading the graphite mill, hard mill and the lathe departments," Gruner said.
The company currently is looking for both machine operators and toolmakers.
At the same time, Adler officials are taking the company to the cloud across the board with off-site data storage, accounting, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning software. The goal is to provide the customer a better user experience and allow them to have a better oversight of their molds.
"The new machining center will allow us to make better electrodes that will especially benefit our EDM department," Gruner said. "The hard mill is going to take our five-axis milling to the next level by allowing to hold submicron tolerances. The center will help reduce lead times and increase capacity, since the machines will run lights out."
As a part of Adler, Shorts will benefit from machinery investments and improved software that expands its ability to grow with its customers.
Kevin Shorts, former owner of Shorts, said he spent a long time looking for the right buyer for the company he dedicated his life to building.
"I wanted a buyer with a deep understanding and appreciation for what we do, and one who would commit to investing more into both my employees and the shop itself," Shorts said in a news release. "I'm convinced I have found that with Adler and that they'll take Shorts to the next level, which I know will benefit both Shorts' employees and its customers."
Kevin Shorts is retiring after aiding in the transition, but Gruner said he will remain a very valuable resource for as long as he would like to be involved.
MBS Advisors of Florence, Mass., represented Shorts in the transaction.
In future acquisitions, Adler officials are open to either buying just the company, as was done with Shorts, or buying the real estate with it.
"We will continue to focus on finding companies in the mold making space which compliment our current capabilities," Gruner said. "We believe that each company that joins the Adler team will bring with it not only a new set of customers but more importantly skills and know-how, which can only improve our company as a whole."