Charter NEX Films Inc. and Next Generation Films Inc. announced a merger a year ago but said both brands would remain in place. Now the merger is complete and the companies have united under a single brand: Charter Next Generation.
Dave Frecka, who owned Lexington, Ohio-based Next Generation Films prior to the merger, retired in November. Kathy Bolhous, who was CEO of Milton, Wis.-based Charter NEX prior to the merger, is now chairman and CEO of Charter Next Generation.
"We're definitely combined now. One leadership team, one company, all focused on producing the highest-quality film," Bolhous said in a telephone interview.
The combined company has 12 U.S. facilities and will post 2020 sales of $1 billion, Bolhous said. That will likely vault the firm into the top 10 North American film and sheet manufacturers, according to Plastics News data.
The 2019 ranking, published in September, had Charter NEX at No. 19 with estimated sales of $515 million and Next Generation at No. 20 with estimated sales of $460 million. Bolhous said the company's focus remains on making specialty films.
"We are 100 percent focused on films. We don't do converting," Bolhous said. "We make highly engineered films for high-cost-to-failure applications like food packaging and medical packaging."
She added that the company continues to invest in new technology, something that Next Generation and Charter NEX had in common.
"We don't generally look to grow our business through acquisitions. We're very discerning, and the reason for that is we are a technology leader; we have the most modern, state-of-the-art assets of any film producer in North America. Any acquisition we would look at would generally have older equipment," Bolhous said.
She said Frecka has been transitioning toward retirement over the past year.
"Dave Frecka has brought a lot of innovation, passion and creativity to the industry, and he has definitely left his mark," Bolhous said.
Bolhous has been in the plastics industry her entire career — since 1983 — and has been with the same company since 2006.
When she joined the firm, it was part of Appleton Papers Inc. Private equity firm Mason Wells bought NEX Performance Films in 2010, combined it with Charter Films Inc. in 2013 and sold that business to Pamplona Capital Management in 2015. Private equity firms Leonard Green & Partners LP and Oak Hill Capital bought Charter NEX from Pamplona in 2017 and added Next Generation in 2019.