ANAHEIM, Calif.—Now that the dust has settled on Trelleborg A.B.'s many acquisitions from 2016, the firm's business units can start focusing on how to capitalize on their newfound capabilities.
That includes Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, which had a particularly busy year. It appointed Linda Muroski its North American president, and in less than a year she's helped spearhead four key acquisitions—two manufacturers and two distributors.
In June, the firm acquired Specialty Silicone Fabricators to expand in the life sciences/health care market, and in November added Coors Tek's subsidiary in El Segundo, Calif., to strengthen its presence in the aerospace arena. In September, Trelleborg added distributor Anderson Seal, now called TSS New Berlin (Wis.), which Muroski said brought Trelleborg a new customer base.
And most recently Trelleborg in January completed its acquisition of Carolina Seal, a distributor that focuses in the rail and transportation markets.
Each move has one thing in common.
"We want to have the right customer with the right solution at the right time," said Muroski, who recently discussed the deals at the MDM West expo in Anaheim. "We want to make sure we're doing that with those right customers that are looking for that organic growth as well."
Muroski said both the aerospace and rail industries are priorities for Trelleborg as it continues to diversify its portfolio. Those two industries share an attractive trait—stability.
"You know pretty much how much is going to be purchased going forward so you have a sense of stability compared to the oil and gas market, which has its ups and downs," Muroski said. "As you look to develop your business model, you really need to look for more stable segments to play in, and I think these are much more stable for us."
Coors Tek's El Segundo operation makes precision seals and bearings made from high performance polymers and metals for aerospace applications. It operates a 30,660-sq.-ft. plant and employs about 90 people.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Carolina Seal specializes in O-rings, hydraulic seals and specialty kitting for transport equipment, with products for the transport of chemicals its biggest market. It reports annual sales of $5.6 million, Trelleborg said.
Its specialty kitting capabilities are just one example of Muroski's larger plan to provide more services to customers. The firm gives Trelleborg the base to provide custom kits designed to specific needs.
"We are looking for that organic growth," Muroski said. "We are striving and driving the organization to that. I want us to have stronger relationships with our customers and provide them with not just products, but also services.
"What else can we do for the customer to make their life easier, I think the answer to that is where we'll get our organic growth from. Not just looking to sell another seal, but sell a solution."
For instance, she said the firm is currently involved in R&D projects focusing on how it can create systems that would allow it to receive early alerts indicating that customers are running out of inventory, providing quicker replacement.
Anderson Seal brings a large assembly operation, which Muroski said also will provide customers with additional capabilities.
The Specialty Silicone Fabricators deal was arguably the biggest splash Trelleborg Sealing Solutions made in 2016 because it greatly enhanced the capabilities of its Life Sciences unit and solidified its commitment as a player in the medical field.
Headquartered in Tustin, Calif., SSF also operates production facilities in Paso Robles, Calif., and Elk Rapids, Mich. It produces high precision silicone components for the medical industry and brings Trelleborg into the implantables market with its dip molding capabilities.
"It helped us better establish ourselves in the health care market," Muroski said.
"I think before we were in the market, but not maybe seen as a big player in it. This gives us that opportunity to make changes because we have capabilities we never thought we would have before. I think there are whole new possibilities of types of solutions we could bring to our customers."
The other key to the acquisition was it gave Trelleborg an FDA-approved facility. Drew Rogers, TSS' global director for the health care and medical segment, said SSF is very strong on the regulatory side, and that expertise is helping Trelleborg move itself into Class 2 or 3 products.
The Northborough, Mass., plant, a Trelleborg site, just got its ISO 13485 certification, which Rogers said is a sign that the firm wants to bring its other manufacturing facilities up to speed.
"It was an indication of Trelleborg's intent to really focus on the health care and medical market," Rogers said. "Up until then we had been casual players, but are very serious about it. They see the growth in the industry and want to drive their segment to top three status. What Specialty Silicone Fabricators gives us is a lot of name recognition and branding and a reputation for being able to manufacture hard-to-make products."
And now Trelleborg can go into more complex devices, like drug-device combination products.
Rogers said these devices are becoming even more intricate. Citing a lung cancer example, a silicone rod could be impregnated with cancer medication so a doctor could deliver that drug directly onto the tumor instead of giving the patient a systemic dose, which Rogers said typically causes side effects.
"You can take anything that goes into the body that might previously have been a cause for infection and impregnated with an antimicrobial drug where it prevents and fights infection," Rogers said.
"SSF is one of only two U.S. manufacturers that is licensed to handle that active pharmaceutical ingredient and to mix silicone with it. We're way ahead of the curve."
The deal already is proving advantageous for both firms. Rogers said Trelleborg recently won a project where the OEM needed both expertise in prototyping and material selection combined with a price point at 3 million piece parts, something that SSF or Trelleborg alone would not have won.
"Trelleborg never could have done the early stage prototyping or developing," Rogers said. "But SSF didn't have the high-speed manufacturing. Together, the solution was perfect and won the deal. That's the blueprint for how we're going to grow our business going forward.
"You have a complete spectrum of capabilities beginning with design assistance and engineering development into the prototyping, which is really SSF's sweet spot," Rogers said. "But then down the line you have the automated manufacturing and process improvement that Trelleborg does quite well."
The combination lends itself to plenty of cross-selling opportunities. Especially because, according to Rogers, there's growth in the contract manufacturing sector because medical OEMs are outsourcing more of their business because it's more cost effective than investing in the processes themselves.
"Contract manufacturing is growing," Rogers said. "Everyone knows the statistics about the whole segment growing. Health care and medical continues to grow as the population ages, as some of these diseases continue to grow. You've got a market segment that's growing and a niche, which is contract manufacturing, that continues to grow. Trelleborg is trying to ride that wave."