You could say Elkhart Plastics doesn’t fit the mold of most locally owned companies. Then again, in today’s world, maybe the rotomolding company and supplier to the RV industry does.
According to a report by the South Bend Tribune, the Indiana company has changed owners three times since 2006. And it eventually ended up back in the hands of local owners, many of whom were managers back in 2006.
In between it was owned by a company from Iceland that called it Promens hf, which sold it about two years ago to a company from the Netherlands that went with the name Indiana Rotomolding Inc. before selling it just four months later to a group that includes current president and CEO Jack Welter.
Welter, who came up on the financial side, has been with the company since 1990 and was part of the ownership group that sold it in 2006.
“It was never in the plan (to reacquire it) when I sold it in 2006,” he said. “You can’t plan that stuff. Just the opportunity presented itself. And the fact that some other key managers were willing to participate was the driving factor in that.”
So when the company from the Netherlands wanted to shed its Indiana plastics companies, Welter was more than happy to head up a group to buy it.
“I’ve been doing it for 22 years now,” he said. “It’s a very diverse process. We make products for a variety of industries. We get to touch a lot of different companies with a lot of different products. “We work with very small companies to very large. From my perspective, I enjoy that.”
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The Elkhart Plastics name is back, as a management group led by former Elkhart owner Jack Welter has purchased five custom rotational molding plants from private equity firm Olympus Partners, Plastics News has reported.
Among Elkhart Plastics’ products are storage compartments and water tanks for RV makers and furniture and tanks for boat companies.
The ownership group bought three rotomolding plants in northern Indiana — in Elkhart, Middlebury and South Bend — plus factories in Littleton, Colo., and Ridgefield, Wash.
The three Indiana plants will operate the name of Elkhart Plastics. The Littleton plant will be operated as Littleton Plastics, and the Ridgefield operation will be named Portland Plastics.
The overall company is called Indiana Rotomolding Inc., which is based in South Bend.
“We bought all the custom business,” Welter said.
Welter is the majority owner. Other people in the group are managers of the rotomolding operation, he said. He declined to provide terms of the deal or say how many people are in the management group that bought the business.
The sale of the custom molding business comes just four months after Olympus Partners, based in Stamford, Conn., bought the six U.S. rotomolding plants of Promens hf, based in Iceland, in a deal announced in mid-October.
Promens had built up a North American presence by purchasing Bonar Plastics Inc. in 2005 and, the following year, Elkhart Plastics.
Welter remained with the company as the vice president of rotomolding for Promens North America, which was the seventh-largest North American rotomolder, according to last year’s Plastics News ranking.
“We want to stress that this is a positive development for our company. The former owner of Elkhart Plastics has acquired the custom rotomolding business, known as Indiana Rotomolding Inc., from Olympus,” Welter said.
The five-plant company will have annual sales of about $60 million and about 500 employees, he said.
“We certainly plan to aggressively grow our custom business and we hope to expand our footprint,” Welter said.
Markets include agricultural, commercial vehicles, consumer products, lawn and garden, electrical/electronic, automotive, recreational and sporting goods, waste management, medical furniture, highway safety products and water management.
A rotomolding plant in West Chicago, Ill., that makes material handling products, is not part of the sale and remains under Olympus ownership.
Olympus Partners burst onto the rotomolding scene in 2008 when Olympus bought two giant rotomolders of tanks, Snyder Industries Inc. and Norwesco Inc. Olympus continues to own the tank businesses.
Olympus set up a holding company to sell the custom rotomolding business.
Olympus Partners would have no comment, said Mike Horgan, a principal at the private equity firm.