Compounding firm Star Plastics Inc. has been acquired by Akoya Capital Partners for an undisclosed price.
President Doug Ritchie founded Star in 1988. He'll remain with the firm as chief strategic officer and a board member.
In an Aug. 25 interview with Plastics News, Ritchie said that finding a buyer for Star was a three-year process.
"I started looking at where I wanted the business to go, and I wasn't finding any easy solution," he said. "When you're an owner for 33 years, you get a lot of phone calls from people who are interested in your company.
"I wanted to find a group that was going to take care of our people and communicate and focus on our customers," Ritchie added. "It was all about fit."
Ritchie will retain a minority interest in the company.
In an Aug. 20 news release, officials with Star in Ravenswood, W.Va., said the deal is "a strategic move to support Star Plastics' aggressive growth and expansion plans."
Star does compounding work in polycarbonate, ABS and other engineering resins, with a focus on flame-retardant grades. In addition to custom compounding, the firm also offers toll compounding services.
Star employs about 175 worldwide, operating compounding plants in Ravenswood and Millwood, W.Va. The firm also has licensing and production partnerships in China.
Ritchie said in the release that Star's mission will not change.
"We chose to partner with the investor group Akoya Capital Partners because it is well aligned with our company culture," he added. "Akoya appreciates the hard work and dedication of our existing team and wants to further our goals by building upon our current company values, staff and processes."
Ritchie was working for local firm Hartley Oil in 1988 when he took on a manufacturing contract that had been offered to the firm by BorgWarner, which had a plant in the area. Hartley already was doing similar work for DuPont, which didn't want Hartley to do similar work for another firm.
That original 10-year contract with BorgWarner was for reprocessing ABS scrap, which Star then sent back to BorgWarner as pellets or flake. BorgWarner sold its plastics business to General Electric in 1990, after which it became part of GE Plastics.
Star later went from contract manufacturing and recycling to toll compounding and then onto making its own products. Ritchie said he's looking forward to working with Akoya to grow the company.
"I was raised here and I'm going to retire here," Ritchie said. "I had to find investors who understood that."
Akoya is a Chicago-based private equity firm. Its current portfolio includes nine manufacturing and service companies. Plastics-related businesses owned by Akoya include Beacon Manufacturing Group, which does some injection molding work, and Trinity Technology Group, which makes specialty fluoropolymer film.
Akoya officials said that the partnership with Star will launch the firm's custom engineered compounds, specialty products and elastomers platform.
"We're excited about the future for Star Plastics and look forward to investing Star's growth and continued success," said Bob May, Akoya managing director and Star's new board chairman.
He described Star as "an industry leader and a world-class provider of high-quality, custom engineered compounds, specialty products and services that will serve as the ideal anchor investment for Akoya's compounds platform."
Officials added that Star's name, brand and leadership team will remain unchanged. Moving forward, the firm plans to invest heavily in people, technology and capabilities to support its aggressive growth plans.
"Akoya's partnership allows us to employ more people, increase our product offering to customers and strengthen the company worldwide," Ritchie said. "It's a win-win for our company and all of those with whom we do business."