SARASOTA, Fla.—Uniroyal Engineered Products L.L.C., producer of the well-known Naugahyde vinyl-coated fabrics brand, has merged with a British firm to expand its reach into Europe.
Uniroyal Engineered Products announced March 12 it combined with Wardle Storeys Ltd. of Earby, England. Uniroyal Engineered is headquartered in Sarasota, Fla., and has a factory in Stoughton, Wis. Like Uniroyal Engineered, Wardle Storeys is a major producer of vinyl-coated fabrics.
The firms have diverse markets, the major ones including automotive, industrial, upholstery and healthcare.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The acquisition too effect March 4.
Uniroyal Engineered President Howard F. Curd said there are two primary reasons for the merger. "The geography is important to expand our footprint. Customers, especially in automotive, are getting more global."
Also, the firms' auto business, the biggest market for the combined companies, did not have much overlap.
"They sell to different OEMs and Tier 1 companies," Curd said. "This is an opportunity to open up to new customers overseas."
The combined business has annual sales of about $50 million, according to an estimate by John Lynn, Uniroyal Engineered vice president of human resources. It will be based in Sarasota but the companies will continue to operate under their established names to take advantage of the goodwill they have earned in their markets. There is no immediate plan to create a new name for the combined entity.
Uniroyal Engineered has had very limited business overseas, although brokers might have been selling its coated fabrics offshore, the company said.
Curd said he and private investors bought Uniroyal Engineered in 2003 with the legal assistance of Five Points Partners L.L.C. of New York.
Uniroyal Engineered used to be part of Uniroyal Technology Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002. In 2003 Uniroyal Technology's businesses were split with Curd and his partners getting the vinyl-coated fabric business.
The Uniroyal name dates to 1961 when the former United States Rubber Co. changed its name. Uniroyal, originally a tire company, diversified into specialty chemicals, vinyl fabrics, plastic sheet and specialty products. In 1990 Michelin bought the tire business, which had merged with B.F. Goodrich's tire division, and 10 years later Spartech Corp. acquired the sheet business comprising Royalite thermoplastic sheet and Polycast cell-cast acrylics.
The Naugahyde name derives from Naugatuck, Conn., where the vinyl-coated fabric was first made in 1936.
Uniroyal Engineered sells its industrial products under the Uniroyal Engineered Products name and its consumer-related products under the Naugahyde name.
Wardle Storeys' brand names include Amba vinyl-coated fabrics for the contract upholstery market and Velbex calendered vinyl sheet for medical, industrial, barrier, pond liner, decorative laminates and other markets. The company also has a components division that does vacuum forming, injection molding and urethane foam molding for automotive and other markets.
Calendered vinyl will be the biggest new business for Uniroyal Engineered in the merger, according to Curd.
Wardle Storeys sells vinyl-coated auto interior trim, including vacuum-formed components. Other markets for such products include marine, healthcare, child care and other transportation applications. The privately owned firm operates a factory in Earby, England.