FAIRLAWN, Ohio—Joseph Gingo grew up knowing all about A. Schulman Inc.
His father worked at the company's first plant. He remembers meeting founder Alex Schulman at company picnics when he was a child.
And, of course, he led the company through its massive growth years, serving as CEO from 2008-14.
But the company he now oversees, which is about to be acquired by LyondellBasell Industries (LBI) in a massive $2.25 billion deal, is far different from the one he once led, suffering from a troubled purchase of Citadel Plastics in 2015.
"When I first got here, we had very little debt, so I was able to re-open a plant, buy companies and equipment and expand all over the world," Gingo said in a Feb. 15 phone interview following the announcing of the pending LBI purchase.
"When I came back, we were $1 billion in debt and Citadel wasn't generating the profits that we had expected."
The $800 million Citadel acquisition, which first began when Gingo was CEO but was completed under his replacement, Bernard Rzepka, went bad after problems arose with some materials made by Citadel units.
Those problems led to Schulman taking a $402 million charge in 2016, and ousting Rzepka. Gingo resumed the CEO post in 2016, ending his retirement plans.
At that point, Gingo said Schulman started "a robust strategic alternatives process" with its board, including the possibility of keeping the company going. When Schulman received the LBI offer, he said it was "a good offer that we needed to let our shareholders know about."
Schulman's current options also are limited because of its debt, according to Gingo.
"I could invest in the company, but acquisitions are off the table, and I couldn't close plants because of severance costs," he said.
The LBI deal will mean a major shakeup in the global materials sector.