AKRON—Finite Fiber recently reached an agreement to purchase controlling interest of custom molder Qualiform Inc.
Andrew Antonino, president of Wadsworth, Ohio-based Qualiform will stay in his role.
"It just seemed like a great fit from the first five minutes of our discussion," Antonino said.
Qualiform has served OEMs since 1976, manufacturing custom rubber molded products used in a variety of industries, including transportation, medical, electrical, plumbing, industrial, health care, appliance and aerospace. The company's products typically are used for impact absorption, resistance, protection and vibration/noise control.
"From a Qualiform standpoint, (Finite Fiber) was a local entity that would keep the company here, would maintain our work force, look to grow the company and also wanted me to be a part of it. So, it was very fortunate, I think, for everyone," Antonino said. "The more conversations were held, the more those considerations became stronger and it was a great opportunity."
Antonino's decision to sell the business was one he didn't take lightly. "The reality of it wasn't any different for me than any other business owner, or family business," he said.
While Antonino didn't initially set out to take over the family business, he was up to the task. But his daughters have chosen different career paths.
"To secure the company's future, succession planning is important," he said.
Antonino knew he had to determine what was best for his family and the business, its employees and customers, he added.
The company's viability moving forward and keeping his 33 employees on board is what mattered to him.
"Checking all the boxes is somewhat a tough thing to do," Antonino said. "I am 53, and I don't want to sit home and do nothing. So, also finding somebody that may want to consider me as still being part of the future plan would have been another box to check."
According to Finite Fiber President Keith Kleve, Antonino's availability was a big part of the company's appeal.
"We've been in the market for a rubber-related company for quite some time," Kleve said.
"Basically, Andy's running a very well-run company and we wouldn't have purchased it unless he agreed to stay on to run it. He knows his business."
Akron-based Finite Fiber is a supplier of natural and synthetic fiber additives to the polymer industry.
The company's fibers are used in rubber, so it was a strategic move to find a company in the rubber side of the business, he said. The company has looked at a few other businesses, but they were not good fits.
"We came across (Qualiform) and it's a great company and it looked like a good, strategic fit for us because now we can do some joint development work on fibers in reinforcing in rubber-molded goods and be able to work and do some technical work together and figure some things out," Kleve said.
The purchase allows Finite Fiber to work with Qualiform's OEM customers to develop new compounds.
"(We) are doing peer R&D development work," Kleve said. "We will look to them to see how fibers can be added into the rubber molding process. And to do work along those lines. To see what types of property changes you get for different types of molding and shapes."
The purchase creates opportunity for both entities.
"We are a very sound company. I think the new ownership is dedicated to taking Qualiform forward in probably new and exciting ways," Antonino said. "And I am excited for what that means for our customers and our employees."
Finite Fiber is a unit of Akron-based Dowco L.L.C., which has roots focusing on the global rubber industry dating back to 1921.