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Wabtec acquisition bolters position as rubber manufacturer

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WILMERDING, Pa.—Wabtec Corp. has purchased Longwood Industries Inc. to expand its presence as a rubber product maker in several sectors.

Longwood designs and manufactures a broad range of specialty rubber products for original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket applications. Its expertise extends to all facets of the consumer, industrial and transportation markets, Wabtec said. Financial details of the sale weren't disclosed.

Longwood has a work force of about 450 and operates two plants in Wytheville, Va., and facilities in Greensboro, N.C.; Brenham, Texas; Soria, Spain; and Munich, Germany. It also has a research and development center in Brenham and posts annual sales of about $70 million..

No plans are in place to close any factories or reduce employment, a Wabtec spokesman said, adding that "we buy businesses to grow them."

Greensboro-based Longwood will keep its name and become a subsidiary of Wabtec, he said.

Wabtec has expanded steadily both in the U.S. and across the world in the last 10 years, both organically and via acquisitions, with much of its focus centering on the transit rail parts business. The spokesman said the transaction expands the company's course and its rubber product capabilities, giving it new offerings for new markets.

For instance, he said, up until the acquisition of Longwood, Wilmerding-head-- quartered Wabtec has been a small play-- er in the oil and gas market in terms of rubber goods.

But Longwood changes that significantly with its numerous rubber products for the oil and gas industry and its expertise in that end of the business, he said.

"With its diverse end markets and technical expertise, Longwood will be a strategic complement to our existing rubber products' businesses, which also serve the transportation and industrial markets," according to Albert J. Neupaver, chairman and CEO of Wabtec.

He said the company will benefit from Longwood's capabilities and market position in the oil and gas sector, and Wabtec expects that the strong presence it has across the globe will expand Longwood's international sales.

Also, the spokesman said, Wabtec plans to make investments in Longwood to help both companies grow.

Wabtec makes technology-based products and provides a variety of services. Through its subsidiaries, the firm manufactures items for locomotives, freight cars and passenger transit vehicles.

About 85 percent of its total sales are in the freight rail and passenger transit industry, the spokesman said. The remaining 15 percent is split among the power generation and other industrial markets.

Longwood's products include specialized diaphragms and seals used in equipment such as pumps, valves and shock absorbers. The firm's expertise extends to developing and manufacturing custom products for bonding rubber to metal and rubber to fabric.

The company has relied on organic growth in markets it serves during the last few years, gaining ground by being an innovative solutions provider, investing in advanced technology, paying attention to detail and offering top quality service, a Longwood official said.

During the last few years, it made sizable investments in its production facilities, particularly at its two plants in Wytheville, and in its research and development operation, CEO Dana Waterman said earlier this year.

The effort has paid off, he said, and the company's sales have grown by 50 percent.