Pacur LLC, an Oshkosh, Wis.-based sheet extruder that's been in the public spotlight since its former president Ron Johnson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, has a new private equity owner.
San Francisco-based Gryphon Investors has purchased a stake in Pacur, President Barry Johnson confirmed Feb. 10. Terms were not disclosed.
Barry Johnson's brother, Ron Johnson, was Pacur's president prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. Johnson defeated former three-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold twice: in 2010 and again in 2016.
Barry Johnson said his family will remain involved in Pacur. He will continue to manage the business, and "the Johnson family will remain significant owners in the company," he said.
Gryphon Investors is a private equity firm that invests in middle-market companies, partnering with company management. It focuses on health care, consumer products and services, industrial growth, software and business services.
Barry Johnson said Gryphon is not a strategic investor, but it will look to expand Pacur organically and through acquisition. Gryphon does not currently own any other plastics companies.
"Our family hired Wells Fargo Securities to find a value-added financial partner for Pacur. Their goal was to find a partner who shared similar cultural values and who could bring expertise to build on Pacur's historical success and launch the company into its next phase of growth," Barry Johnson said.
"Gryphon brings financial resources, industry insights and a history of partnering with family-owned businesses, which we believe will make them a great fit with Pacur," he said.
Pacur extrudes light- and heavy-gauge polyester, copolyester and polypropylene sheet. Key markets include thermoformed and converted packaging for medical devices, food and electronics.
Pacur also makes roll stock and cut-to-size sheet for printing applications, including specialty graphics like lenticular lens designs, which are used to create a dynamic 3D special effect.
Bob Grady, Gryphon deal partner and head of the company's industrial growth group, said his firm was attracted by Pacur's "track record of strong financial performance and excellent customer service, and we continue to be attracted to the strong growth and recession resistance which characterizes the medical device industry."
Barry Johnson said Pacur employs 145.
Plastics News stopped ranking Pacur's sheet extrusion sales in 2019, when the company said that its sales estimate was not accurate. The last estimate, for fiscal year 2017, was $38 million in annual sales. But the company hasn't kept an entirely low profile since Ron Johnson entered the political arena. And Ron Johnson himself has kept some plastics industry connections.
In 2015, Ron Johnson gave the keynote speech at the induction ceremony for nine new members of the Plastics Hall of Fame, which kicked off the NPE2015 trade show in Orlando, Fla. The Republican's speech was aimed at the plastics industry audience, including a recollection of his first NPE show in 1979.
In 2016, when he was running for reelection, one of Johnson's campaign commercials was shot on the Pacur factory floor. Johnson, wearing safety glasses and a vest, leaned on an extruder, telling viewers: "Not only did I help install this machine, I also operated it, working 12-hour shifts at night."
His political opponents tried to make Pacur a campaign issue, too, claiming that he overstated his role in founding the company. According to its website, the company dates back to 1977, when it was established as Wisconsin Industrial Shipping in New London, Wis.
Ron Johnson joined the company in July 1979, the year that it was renamed Pacur and built its extrusion facility in Oshkosh. He founded the company with his brother-in-law, Pat Curler.
Pacur was sold to London-based Bowater plc in the 1980s, which was later renamed Rexam plc. Ron Johnson bought the company back in 1997.
In his most recent U.S. Senate financial disclosure form, filed in May 2019, Ron Johnson reported that he has a 5 percent ownership interest in Pacur. Barry Johnson said that when Ron bought the company back from Rexam, he created a family trust that holds 95 percent of the business.
"The trust will retain a stake in the business," Barry Johnson said.