A Florida judge has ordered Benpac Holding Inc. to pay $22 million to Clearwater-Fla.-based mold maker and injection molder American Tool & Mold Inc. (ATM) for breaching a settlement agreement related to a failed acquisition in 2019.
ATM CEO Emilia Giannakopoulos said the legal victory concluded a profound emotional journey for the owners of the company founded in 1978 by her father, a Greek immigrant, who built it up to serve major customers like Purell.
When she learned of the March 9 court order, Giannakopoulos, a mechanical engineer who had been working in the family business since she was 15, said: "That day I had the most uplifting feeling. It brought everything to a full circle."
The second-generation owner said she can now focus on $5 million in recent investments, including a prototype division and new certifications, while she looks for other companies to acquire.
"I just sent purchase orders for new injection molding machines and the robots that go with them," Giannakopoulos said. "My goal is to grow us to the next level and to keep buying other companies — even sub-specialties that are cutting edge. That's where we're at."
The ruling came from Sixth Judicial Circuit Circuit Judge Keith Meyer. He ordered New York-based Benpac to pay $21.9 million in damages and $130,000 in legal fees to a seller group made up of ATM founder Demetre Loulourgas and his family.
Benpac Holding and other Benpac businesses are part of Stans, Switzerland-based Benpac Group, which is run by CEO Marco Corvi.
Benpac officials had planned to buy ATM and several other U.S. and Canadian companies that offer packaging solutions such as manufacturing, filling and labeling, for the personal care, beverage, household products and pharmaceutical markets.
To that end, Benpac bought Pelco Tool & Mold Inc. near Chicago and then in January 2020, W. Amsler Equipment Inc. in Bolton, Ontario. After that, they tried for injection molding machine maker Niigon Machines Ltd. in Vaughn, Ontario.
However, Niigon closed down as consummation of the deal dragged on and the company eventually ended up in bankruptcy.
In the meantime, Benpac officials were seeking more than a dozen payment extensions from ATM on an acquisition initiated in July 2019. The family of sellers then turned to the courts and won.