An online auction of machining and fabrication equipment once used by the 100-year-old, Oak Creek, Wis.-based Superior Die Set Corp. is underway and will culminate with a three-day webcast auction set for Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
Plans to sell the entire manufacturing operation for die sets, mold bases and other components for the stamping, molding and forging industries to a strategic buyer apparently have fallen through.
A notice on the company website says the components division was sold and catalog components will continue at standard pricing for the near term "by Superior as we prepare to transfer ownership to the new buyer."
Plastics News reached out to members of the Janiszewski family, which founded and operated the company, but did not reach anyone who could comment.
Meanwhile, PPL Group LLC, a Northbrook, Ill.-based company for equipment-intensive businesses with distressed or surplus assets, is overseeing the auction of other parts of SDSC.
SDSC owners had acknowledged in September 2023 that a full sale might not materialize, and they were taking the administrative step of filing a notice about 133 layoffs with the state of Wisconsin to stay in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.
The list of workers scheduled to lose their jobs the week of Thanksgiving included the CEO, all executives, 31 machine techs, 17 surface finishing operators, 10 machine operators, and everyone else from two accounting clerks to five welders.
Founded in 1923 by Polish immigrant Kasimir Janiszewski and two partners, three generations of the Janiszewski family owned and operated the company for 96 years. It appointed the first non-Janiszewski, Martin Girga Jr., as the president and CEO of the company in 2019.
Girga told the local media that he hoped to reinvent the company in the four years leading up to the centennial anniversary as part of a plan he called Superior 2.0 with a theme of "Back to Superior."
However, the centennial year ended with sluggish sales prompting the factory closure and liquidation plans, including the online auction that began Jan. 18 and a webcast auction scheduled for Jan. 31-Feb. 2.
More than 20 milling machines and machining centers are on the auction block along with two boring mills, fabricating tools like plasma cutting machines, water jets and welders, saws, grinders, heat treat furnaces, seven free-standing bridge cranes, 50 jib cranes, material handling equipment and vehicles.
Superior Die Set also has two tool-and-die facilities in Bytów and Kielce, Poland, that do business as ProPlastica. Company officials have said these operations "continue to thrive and serve global demand."