The owners of rubber molder Polyneer Inc. have brought an outside investor into the company's fold to help boost its capital spending and expand some of its offerings into Europe.
Italian O-ring specialist Ar-Tex International became a minority stockholder in Polyneer effective Nov. 7. The company's co-founders, Mike Fernandes and Tino Fidalgo, will retain majority ownership but Ar-Tex will own the next biggest piece of the company, Fernandes said.
Polyneer has grown aggressively since its founding in 2001, and in the past three years its sales have risen annually by 35 percent or more. Fernandes said two years ago he envisioned the company having revenues of $15 million to $18 million by the end of the decade, but he and Fidalgo knew supporting that type of growth into the future would be a problem without getting some help.
``We had held back on some things because we did not have the financial backing,'' Fernandes said. ``Now that it's a reality, we can continue in the same direction we've been going.''
In 2007, Polyneer plans to add $500,000 in capital purchases, including two new injection molding machines and finishing equipment, he said.
While utilizing Ar-Tex's resources will help Polyneer reach its goals, the Italian firm gains a U.S. presence it has been searching for, Fernandes said. Ar-Tex had been looking at several potential companies to invest in and an opportunity to bring its O-ring technology to the U.S. About nine months ago it finally crossed paths with Polyneer, and the two firms seemed to fit well. ``They thought we were the best company for them,'' Fernandes said. ``We share the same philosophy, to invest in new technology and use that technology to reduce costs and waste.''
Ar-Tex already has subsidiary sites in Italy, Spain and Germany, plus a sales office in China.
Polyneer is hoping one of the results of the collaboration with Ar-Tex will be getting its patent-pending Lo-Waste molding technology into Europe, Fernandes said. Polyneer engineers developed the process, which reduces material waste by up to 80 percent, labor by up to 50 percent and cycle time by up to 30 percent.
The Lo-Waste technology was one of the main factors in Ar-Tex's decision to invest in Polyneer, Fernandes said. The company runs four Lo-Waste molding stations at its New Bedford plant, and plans to add two more. ``We've targeted the manufacture of precision sealing products which use more expensive elastomers,'' he said. ``The Lo-Waste technology allows us to reduce costs and be competitive.''
Polyneer's key markets since its inception have been the automotive, energy, consumer and defense sectors. In the coming year, both companies plan on targeting the plumbing and higher-end automotive sealing markets, Fernandes said.
In addition to its Lo-Waste molding system, Polyneer has a patent on an optically assisted flash removal system which relies on a laser to eliminate flash as opposed to cryogenic deflashing. Part of its capital spending plan will go toward getting that system operational in 2007, Fernandes said.
Polyneer's continuing growth strategy includes building from the inside and outside. The company employs 30 and occupies about 13,000 square feet at its facility, but it has an option to grow into the site. Fernandes said it is likely the firm will need additional square footage within the next few years.
The company also is actively looking to acquire smaller manufacturers which may add capacity or give an entry into a new market. In May, Polyneer took on the product and customer base of Custom Rubber Technologies L.L.C., which exited the manufacturing business.