After helping Westfall Technik Inc. assemble an injection molding business, Jim Berklas has opened his own mergers and acquisitions advisory firm: Augmented Industry Services.
Berklas said that the purpose of West Farmington, Conn.-based AIS is to help smaller businesses in plastics and other manufacturing sectors that don't get much attention from larger investment banks.
Berklas worked for Las Vegas-based Westfall from 2017 until earlier this year, helping the company complete 17 acquisitions.
"I realized when I was at Westfall that a lot of companies could succeed if they could find a home where they could thrive," he said in a Nov. 11 phone interview. "They just need the right skill set. And there are hundreds of businesses like that."
Berklas added that many private equity or financial firms only look to acquire companies that have at least $5 million of annual EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). That leaves out a lot of small plastics firms.
"There are a lot of small injection molders or tooling and machine shops that are good companies, but that are totally unfamiliar with the M&A process or don't have the resources to find a buyer," he said.
Plastics in general remains an attractive investment area. "The appeal in plastics is exposure to end markets that are recession-resistant," Berklas said.
AIS currently is working with four plastics firms on potential deals. The firm also works with a network of plastics executives in areas such as packaging and aerospace.
Berklas has more than 25 years of experience in multiple industries. He has closed 200 transactions over the course of his career.