DES PLAINES, Ill.—Rubber roller manufacturers Finzer Roller Inc. and Imperial Rubber Products Inc. have formed an alliance to give the firms access to each other's geographic and manufacturing strengths and better serve national customer accounts.
The agreement—which includes Finzer buying a minority share of Imperial—allows the companies to further develop a national footprint, said John Finzer, Finzer CEO and president. His 42-year-old company had been seeking to employ this strategy for some time, he said, but had not yet found the right opportunity or partner.
Finzer utilizing Imperial's West Coast presence and capabilities—and vice versa for Imperial on the East Coast and in the Midwest and Canada—seems to fit the bill, Finzer said. The company chose Imperial based on several criteria, including customer satisfaction, new product innovation, financial strength and management capability, he said.
Des Plaines-based Finzer has nine manufacturing sites and employs more than 200, but none of the plants are located further west than its Searcy, Ark., plant. Imperial is based and has roller manufacturing capabilities in Chino, Calif., with a depot and sales office in Sacramento, Calif. It employs 26.
“The deal has mutual benefits for both companies,” Finzer said. “We can offer customers like kinds of products and work together to take care of them and capture new business.”
Ron Hill, Imperial president and CEO, said the deal was a good one for many reasons, including broad geographic coverage and unified support to customers with national operations; the ability to distribute proprietary products made by the other partner to customers in their respective regions; the sharing of technology and best practices in manufacturing and operations; and collaboration on new product development.
Sharing resources helps both Finzer and Imperial embrace the trend of larger customers with multiple locations trimming their supplier lists and establishing more exclusive or preferred vendor agreements, Finzer said. “Customers are more geographically sensitive, and they want suppliers that can best serve their immediate needs,” he said.
Finzer traditionally has had strong supply to the East Coast, Midwest and Canada, but it's been lacking on the West Coast, he said. Finzer does some work for customers in California and other western states—most of it low volume or specialized—and it would have been “impractical” for the company to try to capture more mainstream business without a partner like Imperial, he said.
Likewise, Imperial distributes its products into the Midwest and East Coast regions of the country but was looking for a way to expand to a wider base of customers nationally, said Hill, who founded his company in 1989. Finzer's wide base and sales coverage in those areas was the perfect fit.
“Finzer Roller has a tremendous range of specialized products and unique manufacturing solutions, which we look forward to sharing with our customers,” he said.
The deal also makes Imperial a more competitive company in the future. “By combining our purchases and purchasing power, we expect to see some significant cost savings overall,” Hill said.
Each of the companies provides numerous roll materials—including rubber, polyurethane, graphite, nylon, Teflon and various metals—and sizes for demanding graphic arts and industrial markets. Both firms have in-house machine shops and grinding, grooving and crowning capabilities as well as roll-building equipment.
While the two companies will collaborate in many areas, they remain separate entities and neither firm will play a management role in the other. Together, though, the operation's geographical breadth, and capabilities in the U.S. are matched only by Rotadyne's Roll Group, Finzer said.
In addition to the Imperial buy-in, Finzer has made eight acquisitions of roller-related operations since 2001.