Northbrook, Ill., financial firm Big Shoulders Capital has purchased the assets of DRS Industries Inc., a tool maker and custom injection molder in Holland, Ohio, that specializes in short-run production and prototyping using aluminum molds, "saving" 35 jobs.
The owners now are Big Shoulders Capital and DRS President Craig Simon, who had been the tooling manager. Terms were not disclosed.
The 35-person DRS has manufactured parts for Ford Motor Co., Honeywell International Inc. and Vitamix. The company molded custom grilles for the 50th anniversary Mustang and the Camaro SS. DRS also works with Tesla — and Simon said the company has worked on four different autonomous vehicles.
Automotive accounts for about 20 percent of the company's business. Other markets include aerospace, consumer products, construction and lighting.
The expertise of DRS in building hard-to-manufacture products means the company has built parts in Ohio and shipped them to China. Diverse molds and products made by DRS include aircraft interiors, roofing parts, consumer self-defense items, handcuff holders for police, "self-healing" interior parts and headlights.
Simon said DRS is one of the few toolmakers that exclusively produce aluminum injection molds, instead of the traditional steel.
"Aluminum's thermal conductivity properties provide straighter parts, allowing us to build thicker parts and reduce warpage," he said.
DRW runs nine injection molding machines with clamping forces from 95-730 tons, and more than a dozen machining centers for making molds.
DRS went into receivership in May 2019, with its prior lender, Simon said. Big Shoulders invested in the company, which has a skilled, loyal workforce, including younger mold makers, he said.
Alex Mazer, vice president of Big Shoulders, said the company has unique capabilities.
"We also see the opportunity for some synergies between DRS and our other portfolio companies and will actively look for bolt-on businesses, particularly amidst the automotive slowdown," Mazer said.
Simon acknowledged that there could be other acquisitions, but he said the immediate goal is to continue a turnaround begun in 2019, when the company was profitable.
"The biggest thing is getting back on a good basis of prototype and low-volume production, and then we'll see where it grows from there," he said.
With the new infusion of capital, "we're ready to take off," Simon said.