Hicks Plastics Co. Inc., a Tier 2 supplier of injection molded and vacuum metalized automotive lighting components, has been sold to Sea Link International Inc.
The deal was announced Aug. 20. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Hicks Plastics is based in Macomb Township, Mich., a Detroit suburb, where it has two facilities: a 36,000-square-foot injection molding and parts assembly plant with about 16 injection presses ranging from 85-1,500 tons and a 35,000-square-foot paint coatings and vacuum metalizing facility, which also has injection molding and assembly operations. That plant has about seven injection presses with tonnages between 170 and 950.
The company's product line includes automotive headlamps, tail lamps, brake lights, interior trim and dashboard parts.
Hicks Plastics also has a manufacturing facility in Knoxville, Tenn., where it has additional injection molding and vacuum metalizing operations for automotive lighting components. In 2015, the company said it was investing about $10.4 million in the expansion and creating more than 200 jobs, according to a Plastics News report. The 97,000-square-foot facility currently employs around 100.
The company ranks No. 208 on PN's annual listing of North American injection molders, with estimated injection molding sales of $26 million. It has approximately 250 employees, according to the most recent ranking.
Going forward, Tim Hicks, a second-generation owner of the company, will join Sea Link as vice president while continuing to serve as president of Hicks Plastics. All jobs at Hicks Plastics will be retained, he said.
"A part of me thought it was a little too early to sell, but all along, I think if I was going to sell it would be to someone that was going to be strategic to what our product focus was and that was automotive lighting," Hicks said in an Aug. 21 phone interview. "I felt it was a really good fit to partner with a company like Sea Link. … We'll continue to do exactly what we're doing right now as a Tier 2 lighting supplier."
Even as the auto industry braces for a global slowdown in vehicle sales, Hicks said the company's product portfolio is well positioned to pull through during a downturn.
"Even if car sales tend to slow, the lighting in these types of added features they continuously put on vehicles tends to increase every year," he said. "Even if they're selling the same amount of vehicles, our content tends to increase."
Sea Link, a Largo, Fla.-based manufacturer of high-precision automotive lighting components for Tier 1s and automaker customers, is owned by private equity firm New Water Capital LP in Boca Raton.
The company has a 13,500-square-foot clean room facility, where it offers Class A finishes on metallic and nonmetallic surfaces. It also injection molds various lighting components such as headlamp reflectors, door mechanisms and lamp adjusters, and it has stamping, assembly, die casting and engineering operations.
"The addition of Hicks Plastics to our automotive lighting platform will allow us to further integrate Sea Link's in-house manufacturing and assembly capabilities," Sea Link President and CEO Eric Showalter said in a statement. "This important acquisition will give us increased flexibility and capacity to respond quickly and nimbly to changing market, political and economic conditions."
MBS Advisors of Florence, Mass., represented Hicks Plastics in the transaction.
The acquisition marks the fourth addition to New Water Capital's automotive lighting platform. The firm first invested in the sector with its recapitalization of Sea Link in March 2016. It then added Myotek Industries Inc., a Tier 1 supplier of fog lamps, signal lamps and brake lamps, the following year. More recently, in 2018, Myotek bought Amptech Inc., a manufacturer of electronics and electrical assemblies for the automotive and industrial markets.