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'Happy ending' as ANR sells division to Canadian firm

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CEREDO, W.Va.—American National Rubber Inc. has sold its fabrication/converting division to Toronto-based Jacobs & Thompson Inc.

American National was sold in two parts in late 2008, with Delta Partners L.L.C. purchasing the assets of ANR's closed-cell sponge rubber business, including its 100,000-sq.-ft. Ceredo facility.

Doug Kinney, managing partner and principal for Delta Partners, said in the industry, there are those that convert rubber and those that make it.

For the past few years, ANR has been a company that did both. This essentially put the company in competition with some of its customers.

“So our plan all along has been to try to figure out how to fix that problem,” Kinney said.

When Jacobs & Thompson approached ANR, he said he knew it was the right buyer. Jacobs & Thompson signed a multi-year lease for the fabrication facility on the ANR-owned land and has agreed to retain all employees.

“It's just an absolute happy ending for both companies and all the employees,” Kinney said.

Jacobs & Thompson was established in 1947 and has continued to grow. According to the company website, it made one additional acquisition this year—Aquacut Foam Inc. in June. This is the first U.S. acquisition for the Canadian company.

Jacobs & Thompson is “highly respected” and will be a customer of ANR, working completely as a separate entity, according to Kenny.

ANR no longer will be in the converting business; instead, it will make “full-bun products only.

“We are two distinct companies. They are independent. There's no affiliation other than the fact that ... they're my customer now,” he said.

Kinney added, “This has been part of our strategic plan for a long time, but we just hadn't really found the right buyer.”

ANR wanted its employees to be able to keep their jobs, a request that past suitors would not agree to.

Past pursuers of the company wanted to purchase the division, close up shop and move it elsewhere.

The company “did not entertain any of those offers,” Kinney said. Jacobs & Thompson approached ANR in March and were adamant about wanting to maintain the facility and the jobs, he said, so he knew it could be a good fit.

Kinney projects that within a year, the facility could be producing twice the revenue.

“They are just absolutely exceptional people,” he said of Jacobs & Thompson.