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Latest acquisition expands Finzer's geographic presence

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DES PLAINES, Ill.—Finzer Roller Inc. has purchased the assets of S.I. Industries Inc. to expand its rubber roller manufacturing capabilities and geographic presence in the U.S.

A maker of rubber, urethane and silicone rollers, S.I. operates a 30,000-sq.-ft. plant in Blaine, Minn., and a 9,000-sq.-ft. factory in Commerce, Colo. Both are part of the acquisition, according to John Finzer, CEO of the Des Plaines-headquartered company. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

"Due to our customers' delivery expectations and transportation costs, it was difficult for Finzer Roller to compete in Minnesota and Colorado and the surrounding states," he said. "The addition of two S.I. locations with their experienced personnel will allow Finzer Roller to be very competitive in these regions of the U.S."

He said the company's strategic goal is to expand its reach across the U.S. and the purchase helps to separate Finzer Roller from its competition.

Prior to the acquisition, Finzer Roller had seven plants located east of the Mississippi River, Finzer said. They are located in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, North Carolina and Florida.

"The addition of S.I. will strengthen our brand recognition west of the Mississippi," he said. "Strategically, this is important for Finzer Roller since we are trying to create nationwide brand recognition."

The acquisition gives the company 10 manufacturing locations—with a plant in Arkansas along with the new Minnesota and Colorado factories located west of the Mississippi—along with a minority interest in Chino, Calif.-based Imperial Rubber Products Inc., which the company purchased in 2010.

Finzer Roller has grown steadily via acquisitions since 2001 when it purchased Atlantic Roller. It followed that with a number of other significant purchases, including Carolina Fiberglass Technologies in 2003; Samuel Bingham Enterprises Inc. and Crown Roller L.L.C. in 2004; RD Canada Inc. in 2006; Roller Express Inc. in 2007; Baltimore Blanket and Roller in 2009; Forest Roller in 2010; and the assets of Perma-Flex Roller Technology in 2012.

Those additions created a strong base on the East Coast, in the Midwest and Canada for the firm.

Adding Blaine-headquartered S.I. to the fold not only increases Finzer Roller's geographic presence, but it also gives the company new niche markets in the western region.

Using Finzer Rollers' sales force, he said, "we hope to expand our sales into these niche markets on a national basis."

Founded in 1978 by James Marciniak, S.I. employed 26 at the time of the purchase. After the sale closed, Marciniak retired. The remaining 25 employees have been retained by Finzer Roller, according to Finzer.

"I'm 69," Marciniak said, "and I had been approached by other companies that wanted to buy S.I. but many of them weren't people-oriented. When it was time for me to hang it up, Finzer came along and offered a very good deal. They were people-oriented, as I am, and I was concerned for my employees.

"Finzer fit ... the money was secondary. I've been frugal all my life and wasn't trying to be rich. I wanted our people to be comfortable when I left. I arranged for Finzer to meet with the employees. And it worked out well. Our employees were anxious for this to happen after they met with Finzer officials."

S.I.'s rubber, urethane and silicone rollers are used in a variety of industries, including printing, packaging and industrial. The firm also produces rubber molded goods and has a machine shop to handle in-house core repairs and new core construction.

It manufactures rollers up to 18 inches in diameter by as much as 200 inches long, while Finzer Roller makes rollers up to 66 inches in diameter and up to 317 inches long.

The company's services include roller repair, regrinding rubber coverings, remanufacturing and maintenance for a variety of rollers. It works with a wide range of materials, including nitrile, EPDM, silicone and polyurethane as well as a number of other compounds.

Finzer Roller plans to keep the S.I. brand, at least for the time being, because it has good name recognition, Finzer said. Over the long term, he said, the company is open to keeping the brand if it proves to be valuable enough.

"Their product mix is consistent with what we do," the executive said. "Both companies have strengths the other doesn't have, and each will share their manufacturing expertise. We'll learn from them; they'll learn from us.

"They have similar plans to ours in what they manufacture. Their sizes are smaller to produce parts ... and we'll add to their capabilities."

Finzer said the rubber roller industry is mature, and survivors will be those that keep their manufacturing costs in line with demand.