Holyoke, Mass. — Integration is front of mind for Jay Kumar these days.
You see, the CEO of Universal Plastics Group has completed three acquisitions in the last two years. That's five, overall, since the company's founding in 2012. Finding strategic fits for Kumar's growth plans excite this 40-year-old executive, but fitting five companies into a cohesive unit is a big lift.
"This integration has been, by far, the most challenging part of [the acquisitions]," he said. "I did not expect that. The complexity went up exponentially. They say when you have kids, two is man-to-man defense and three is zone defense. So, I feel like we're playing zone defense."
To that end, Kumar has physically gathered five key staffers, including Chief Strategy Officer Pia Kumar (also his wife), in a separate building in Holyoke to work on the big picture. That work includes finding CRM, sales, data management and informational flow solutions for what is now a $70 million business.
"The purpose of this building is to help us integrate the facilities we've acquired and the facilities we intend to acquire in the future. So, we're able to focus on the overall business not just singular divisions," he said.
The integration workload is difficult. But Kumar has a vision: Offer customers a one-stop shop for plastics processing with an expertise that now includes thermoforming, blow molding and injection molding with facilities in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"Each site is running fairly autonomously, but we're integrating where it makes sense," said Kumar, who identified aerospace, medical and industrial markets as prime ones for Universal Plastics.
Does Kumar remain bullish on each business unit despite the work in front of him?
"In all of our businesses, I see a path for significant growth. We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't," said Kumar, who sees the integration completed by the end of 2019. That would open the doors for additional purchases.
"Once we get that done, we'll be able to absorb companies more easily," said Kumar, whose only requirement for future purchases is companies that are good at what they do.
"We'd love to be on the West Coast and the Southeast, Southwest, the Midwest," he said.