NEW BERLIN, Wis.—Service and product line expansions were the main reasons that A&A Manufacturing Co. Inc. acquired the former Ro-Lab American Rubber Co. Inc. more than 18 months ago, and early returns suggest the move is helping to cement A&A Manufacturing's reputation as an industry leader.
New Berlin-based A&A Manufacturing expanded its portfolio of customized solutions through the acquisition of Ro-Lab, headquartered in Tracy, Calif. Ro-Lab has been a leading custom mixing and molding company specializing in engineered polymers since it was formed in 1978. Financial details of the transaction were not released.
A&A Manufacturing is a global manufacturer of protective cover products, cable and hose carriers, roll-up doors, machinery door openers, slip clutches and engineered assemblies.
In recent years, officials at A&A Manufacturing have been looking to grow the company both organically and through acquisitions, said Tony Cavalco, senior vice president of marketing and sales.
“We had wanted to expand into the compression molding business for some time, but for years served mainly as a fabricator,” Cavalco said. “But it got to a point where there was a certain volume of product needs that we were unable to handle. Not only was Ro-Lab a base of business, but they had great equipment and a knowledge base in the transfer of injection molded rubber products.”
Ro-Lab had the machinery to compound its own rubber as well as a lot of experience in polyurethane elastomers, which was appealing to A&A Manufacturing. Cavalco's company always had solved applications with processes, and about 95 percent of its manufacturing is customized to client orders.
“We always looked at the processes we had available in-house, and now we had more applications to add to our toolbox,” Cavalco said of the strategic acquisition.
A&A Manufacturing employs nearly 600 in seven facilities, including locations in California, Indiana, Michigan, Connecticut and Germany. Almost 60 employees came directly from the Ro-Lab acquisition.
“We were also able to expand our operations on the West Coast and added manufacturing capabilities there (at the former Ro-Lab location) which helps to serve our base of business even better there,” Cavalco said. “Now we can even better manage design and quality in-house, including other components we previously never had the capability to make for vertically integrated or custom compounds.”
Ro-Lab specializes in the production of polyurethane- and rubber-based components that require close-tolerance molding (RMA-A1 when necessary); accurate alignment of metal inserts and polymers; strict control of material composition and purity; immaculate appearance (RMA-F1 finish when required); unusual sizes, such as very thin, large parts or long lengths; and continuous press-cure for long, flat, heavy sheets.
The acquisition has been a success. A&A Manufacturing experienced excellent growth in the first year since the deal, and strong business growth is expected in the short and long term because the company cross-sells new applications and products more effectively, Cavalco said.
It has allowed the company to be more competitive in the transportation and oil and gas industries—two growth markets that rely on application-specific features.
A&A Manufacturing is part of Boston's Audax Group, a private equity firm specializing in middle market companies.