In a major resin shipping deal, A&R Logistics Holdings Inc. has acquired Plantgistix Holdings for an undisclosed price.
The addition of Houston-based Plantgistix will make A&R the resin industry's only logistics provider offering complete export solutions out of Houston, Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., according to A&R.
A&R CEO Mark Holden said in a Nov. 20 phone interview that the deal extends A&R's supply chain capability and allows the firm to have "a three-port strategy."
He added that there was very little overlap in the business models of the two firms, even though both are heavily involved in resin logistics.
This is the second transaction for Louisville, Ky.-based A&R since the firm was acquired in May by Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. In June, Wind Point acquired Blue Water Plastic Transport LLC of St. Clair, Mich.
"Aggressively expanding A&R's presence in the chemicals export market was a key value creation initiative identified at the time of our investment," Wind Point Managing Director Konrad Salaber said in a Nov. 19 news release. "This acquisition advances A&R's position as one of the largest, most flexible supply chain partners for the world's leading chemical companies."
Plantgistix operates three major resin shipping centers in the Houston area. Two of those have opened in Baytown, Texas, in the last two years. The firm has grown in reaction to massive new amounts of polyethylene resin that's been added on the U.S. Gulf Coast in recent years.
Some market watchers have expressed concerns about potential oversupply of North American PE, as a result of multiple major capacity expansions and the impact of tariffs on U.S. resin exports. But Holden said A&R "is taking a long-term view" of the market.
"It will take some time for higher-cost [PE] production to exit the market," he said. "But the capacity that's coming online is being used around the globe. This is a very exciting time to be in the industry."
In the release, Holden credited Plantgistix founder Marc Levine and President Sam Diaz. Following the transaction, Diaz and the Plantgistix management team will join A&R.
"Through his focus on delivering the industry's highest quality service, and an emphasis on building a strong corporate culture, Marc Levine laid the foundation for a truly unique company," Holden said. "Likewise, Sam Diaz has done a remarkable job leading the business day-to-day, positioning Plantgistix as a true leader in this space."
Earlier this year, A&R announced projects totaling more than $100 million to establish facilities on the U.S. East Coast in Charleston and Savannah. Officials added that Plantgistix complements A&R's East Coast strategy, establishing a large and growing footprint near the Port of Houston.
A&R provides dry bulk transportation services, warehousing, packaging, distribution, export and third-party logistics solutions to many multinational chemical companies. The firm's services include over-the-road transportation, loading, packaging, warehousing, and end-to-end outsourced transportation management.
In Morris, Ill., A&R operates a PE and polypropylene shipping center that can process 1 million pounds per day. The firm also provides rail services and operates more than 800 trucks and 1,200 trailers.
Wind Point acquired A&R in May in partnership with Holden, a veteran executive in the logistics space. Wind Point also owns compounding firm Aurora Plastics of Streetsboro, Ohio. Its previous plastics investments include film extruders Paragon Films and Novolex and compounder Citadel Plastics.
Officials said A&R's acquisition strategy will continue to focus on acquiring companies that provide dry bulk transportation, warehousing and logistics services to producers and distributors of chemicals and plastics.
"We're definitely interested in more acquisitions," Holden said Nov. 20. "We're talking to a lot of people."
Plantgistix, formerly United DC, has been working with resin makers for seven decades. The firm was one of the first in the U.S. to provide contract packaging to the plastics industry. Its history dates back to the early days of the U.S. plastics industry, when brothers Harry and Louis Levine founded injection molder Commonwealth Plastics in Leominster, Mass., in the 1930s.
Plantgistix now has 1.3 million square feet of warehouse space. Earlier this year, Levine said in an interview with Plastics News that he "was hesitant for us to add on capacity at first, especially since we had just opened one facility," but that he changed his mind after talking to DowDuPont Inc. and other PE makers who have been adding capacity.
"The [PE] producers look at it as needing certainty," Levine said.