STAPLES, Minn.—Zhongli North America Inc., the North American unit of Zhongli Corp., has purchased Stern Rubber Co.
Zhongli said in a news release that acquiring the Staples-based manufacturer of customer molded and extruded rubber products is the first step in its strategy to establish a manufacturing presence in North America for its automotive products.
Kenneth Rohan, vice president of operations for Zhongli North America, said in a statement that the firm ultimately plans to expand it capabilities for other automotive related components. It operates a 13,000-sq.-ft. technical center in Madison Heights, Mich., that performs sales, engineering, logistics and quality control functions. It also operates a 33,000-sq.-ft. parts storage and re-packaging warehouse facility in Troy, Mich.
Currently, the firm has manufacturing facilities in Shanghai and Wuhu, China, according to its release.
“Stern Rubber has the level of manufacturing capabilities we have targeted,” Rohan said in a statement.
Stern Rubber mainly focuses on non-automotive industries with three facilities in the Minnesota area—two at its main complex in Staples and one in Aitkin that focuses exclusively on gate valves, which is one of the firm's largest businesses. Stern Rubber President Bob Jackson said in an earlier interview that the firm employs about 85 at the three combined facilities.
The company operates six injection and 27 compression presses at its main facility, with the extrusion operation consisting of two lines. It also operates three compression presses in Aitkin.
Stern Rubber uses almost every kind of rubber imaginable—including natural rubber, EPDM, SBR, molded silicone and fluoroelastomers—using compression, transfer and injection molding as well as some extrusion. Part of the reason for the growth is the company's willingness to try almost anything.
Its main facility spans about 50,000-sq.-ft. and specializes in custom molded parts. Its extrusion business operates out of the second facility at Staples, a 14,000-sq.-ft. building with two extrusion lines. The two units rest on 40 acres of land.
Stern Rubber recently completed a 1,200-sq.-ft. addition to its main facility, also adding three new pieces of equipment to its manufacturing operation. The expansion and the additional equipment represent a $1.45 million investment.
“This is going to be a good fit for Stern,” Jackson said in a statement. “The opportunity to take advantage of the synergies from both companies is exciting. By combining our rubber technology and manufacturing know-how, we are confident we can make Zhongli and Stern Rubber stronger sources for a wide range of industries.”