WARREN, Mich.—Sonus Engineered Solutions may have a new name, but its mission remains the same.
The formerly-named Novo Motor Acoustic Systems Inc., a supplier of automotive parts designed to reduce noise, vibration and harshness, recently rebranded to Sonus. The change was designed to help put its private equity owner, 3P Equity Partners, in a better position to pursue acquisitions to support its rubber and plastics business.
Sonus President Tim Droege said he pursued the private equity deal, which closed in 2015, to help the firm grow in a very competitive market. Since the deal, Sonus has hired new engineers, added four new plastics injection molding machines and has its sights set on increasing its presence globally.
"If you look at one of our big product lines, which is air induction systems, we're competing with the large global companies," Droege said. "It's pretty tough for a company our size to compete with that, not so much that we don't have the capabilities, but the perception is we're the little guys. So I really wanted to bring in some private equity partners with access to resources to help us grow. Now if we need new machines, new software or new technology, they'd be able to help us acquire that. Our customers were quite happy with the deal."
Droege said Sonus was 3P's first venture into automotive. In the same year, the private equity firm closed on another deal bringing a Slovenia rubber parts producer into its portfolio and allowing Sonus to have a partner in Europe under the same umbrella.
The Slovenian company produces small precision molded rubber-like grommets, bellows, convolutes and air ducts, among other products utilizing a proprietary technology that gives it a competitive advantage in the convolutes business, Droege said.
This is just the beginning, he said. With annual sales of about $44 million, all of Sonus' business is with the Detroit 3, and Fiat-Chrysler is its biggest customer. Since the merger with Fiat, the OEM now has a strong presence in Europe, which in turn opens up opportunities for Sonus.
"Customers want you to be where they are," Droege said. "That would be the next step. The No. 1 priority for us is to take what we have here and make a carbon copy of it and expand our capabilities to Europe."