Wisconsin-based packaging thermoformer Portage Plastics Corp. has expanded into the Sunshine State, buying Plant City, Fla.-based Paradise Plastics.
PPC already has plants in Portage, Wis., and Brownsville, Texas.
The deal is, in part, the result in declining interest in making homemade holiday fruitcakes.
Paradise Plastics was formerly the thermoforming and injection molding unit of Paradise Inc., a publicly traded fruit company that is in the process of liquidating. The company sold its candied fruit operation to Marion, N.Y.-based Seneca Foods Corp. in July 2019.
Paradise Inc. specialized in making syrup-infused fruit for fruitcakes. The company once produced 85 percent of the candied fruit consumed in the United States, according to a Tampa Bay Times report, with the majority sold in supermarkets including Walmart.
PPC President and CEO Dan Joyce said Paradise Plastics generated about $6 million from thermoforming: $4 million from heavy-gauge and $2 million from thin-gauge forming.
Plastics News did not rank Paradise's injection molding operations.
"This is a real good news story. We are able to keep 30 jobs, and I am excited about diversifying into heavy-gauge and expanding our geographic footprint," Joyce said in a July 17 telephone interview.
"The injection molding is also new for us. I'd like to develop it on a small scale to support us. It's something we're going to explore," Joyce said.
Paradise President and CEO Randy Gordon did not return calls for comment but said in a news release: "Portage Plastics has a long history of providing quality products to their customers. We are very excited and pleased Portage has acquired our Plastics division and look forward to adding our products and services to theirs as the joining of forces will improve the business growth resulting in a stronger presence in the marketplace."
In a letter to Paradise Inc. shareholders, Gordon disclosed that they would receive nearly $2.08 million, or $4 per share, as a result of the Paradise Plastics sale.
PPC ranked No. 67 in the most recent Plastics News survey of North American thermoformers, with sales of $23 million. The company has 108 employees and 10 thermoforming lines between the plants in Portage and Brownsville. Joyce said before the Paradise acquisition, the company was on pace to post $25 million in 2020 sales.
PPC uses a sequential melt phase vacuum pressure forming process, which includes form/cut-in-place, in-line forming, cutting, stripping and stacking parts.
Key end markets for PPC include thermoformed packaging for food, medical, personal care, automotive, retail hardware, agricultural, consumer and industrial electronics products.
Joyce said he started talking with Paradise about six months ago. Closing the deal was complicated by the pandemic, primarily because of difficulty traveling. Both companies have stayed open, classified as essential businesses.
Paradise Plastics formed in the 1970s with the initial purpose of making cups and lids for Paradise's candied fruit products. Over time, Paradise Plastics began to also serve outside customers, making thin- and heavy-gauge thermoformed packaging.
PPC was founded in 1997, in part by former employees of Portage Industries Corp., a sheet and roll-stock extruder and thermoformer. Spartech Corp. bought Portage Industries in early 1996, and some of the employees bought the thermoforming portion of the business from Spartech. PPC has grown since then, expanding in Portage and establishing the manufacturing base in Texas.
Portage, Wis., is a hotbed of thermoforming companies, and the area once hosted the annual Society of Plastics Engineers' thermoforming division meeting.
Both PPC and Paradise were recently part of an alliance of companies that produced the Badger shield, a clear plastic shield with a foam brow piece used by health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.