ASHTABULA, Ohio—Grand River Rubber & Plastics Co. is aiming to make major inroads in Europe and Asia with the acquisition of a belt business in England.
The employee-owned flat drive belt, cut washer and tubular gasket manufacturer has purchased the belting division of Icon Polymer Ltd. to expand the company's operation and global reach significantly, according to Rich-ard Selip, president of Grand River Rubber.
Financial details weren't disclosed.
Icon and Grand River also are planning to explore future collaborative projects to take advantage of each firm's unique capabilities, Grand River said.
A pioneer in drive belt technology for vacuum cleaners, the acquired belting division has a large presence not only in Europe but also in China, Selip said. It supplies belts to major players in the vacuum cleaner industry, such as Electrolux and Hoover, and offers a full range of standard belt products.
Grand River and Icon are preferred suppliers to the Chinese subcontract manufacturing market, where more than 50 percent of their belt products are exported. Grand River has been supplying manufacturers in China for eight years, Selip said, garnering about $3 million in sales annually while competing directly with Icon.
Icon has a solid base in Europe while Grand River has smaller sales in the region, Selip said, and the purchase provides Grand River with the opportunity to grow rapidly on the continent.
"As a corporation that has seen niche markets as its best opportunity to provide value to its customers and opportunity to its employee owners, the acquisition of Icon Polymers flat drive belt business is a logical next step in pursuing this strategy," he said.
Grand River, which employs about 200 and manufactures about 2 million items daily, is moving the acquired assets, including machinery, to its 100,000- sq.-ft. plant in Ashtabula from Icon's present location in England, Selip said. No personnel will relocate to the U.S. site. The transferred equipment should be up and running by the fourth quarter, he said,
Icon will absorb most of the work force that handled the belting end of the business. Selip said Icon sold the operation because it wants to focus on key elements of its business, including producing highly engineered products for the aerospace, defense, rail and off-highway vehicle industries.
The acquisition will bring customers "the very best the sector can deliver," said Icon CEO Tim Pryce. "Combining the technical expertise and innovation of Icon and the global reach and mass production capabilities of Grand River represents a very exciting development for the sector."
To support the acquired business of the flat drive belt division further, Grand River said it will increase its presence in Asia, taking its customer service, sales and technical support operations to a higher level of commitment to its customer base.
Selip said Icon has developed "some great material technology and great compounds. Our ability to mass produce their compounds will be very beneficial."
Grand River continuously is striving to deliver higher levels of service and value to its customers, said Donald Chaplin, Grand River senior vice president.
"In the flat drive belt market, combining Icon Polymer's material technology with Grand River Rubber's production process creates a win-win for our customer base in North America, Europe and Asia," he said.
For the first time, manufacturers can get the best in design, materials, production and service through a single source, according to Pryce.