GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Tillerman & Co. has purchased Jackson Flexible Products Inc., a manufacturer of custom engineered rubber parts used primarily in the aerospace industry, from longtime owner and founder Ronald Jakubas.
An investment and merchant banking firm, Tillerman partnered with Timothy Dickerson, who had served as general manager of Jackson Flexible Products, in making the acquisition.
Dickerson will become CEO of the 47-year-old business under the new ownership. The remaining members of the company's management team and work force of around 26 will be retained, he said.
They will continue to operate out of the company's headquarters and plant in Jackson, Mich., which spans about 35,000 square feet. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
“We haven's changed much in terms of size and scope in the last several years, but we have done very well,” Dickerson said. “We're certainly interested in growing the business and broadening our market base. Organic growth is our first initiative ... but we won't rule out an acquisition if it proves to be the way to go.”
He said the firm has a strong presence in the aerospace sector, primarily with its engineered rubber-to-metal-bonded rubber parts. “I'm very excited. We have plenty of capacity to grow, and we're hoping to expand our higher volume business. We're in a good position regionally, and we have lots of opportunities to grow.”
Philip Blanchard, a partner with Grand Rapids-headquartered Tillerman, said keeping Dickerson on board was an important part of the acquisition. “He's an old hand in the industry. Ultimately you're backing people. Without him, I doubt that we would have been interested.”
Blanchard said his company plans to invest in research and development, new equipment and marketing at Jackson Flexible Products to create new avenues for growth for the firm's employees, customers, suppliers and the Jackson community.
As an investment and merchant banking firm, he said, “we buy companies with the aim of positioning the firm for the future.”
For nearly half a century, Jackson Flexible Products has been producing specialty compounds and designing and manufacturing “high performance parts for customers with the most stringent specifications, including FAA-certified applications,” according to Remos Lenio, another partner with Tillerman.
“We intend to build on that tradition by bringing Jackson Flexible's expertise to new customers in the medical, oil and gas, rail, energy, and other industries,” he said.
Jakubas started the rubber product molder, based in Jackson, in 1969 to manufacture products and supply Aeroquip Corp., which later was bought by Eaton Corp. He plans to retire but will remain as a member of the board of directors for awhile, Dickerson said.
Blanchard said Jakubas originally considered several potential buyers who were interested in purchasing Jackson Flexible Products but would have consolidated it into their own operations.
His company, however, wanted to keep the business in Jackson and continue building it, which tied in with what Jakubas had envisioned when he first considered selling the business, Blanchard said. So Jakubus elected to sell the operation to Tillerman.