GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 20, 2012

Blackburn firm adds another acquisition

By Richard Gaines Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Lifted out of bankruptcy two years ago by private equity acquisition, Gloucester Engineering, a leading designer and manufacturer of capital equipment for the plastic extrusion industry, has now made its second acquisition of the year.

The portfolio company of Blue Wolf Capital Fund has acquired a New York State company, Pearl Technologies Inc., that engineers and designs products such as punches for adapting the films that come from the equipment made with Gloucester Engineering’s heavy hardware. The perforated plastic bags for fruit, breads and other food products that require post production modification define Pearl’s core field.

In March, the recapitalized and revitalized Gloucester Engineering, based in the city’s Blackburn Industrial Park, added Future Design of Toronto, Canada, which is known for its blown film bubble management expertise.

”We have the capital to grow,” said Gloucester Engineering President Carl Johnson.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed Friday, but Johnson said Pearl Technologies made an ideal fit with Gloucester Engineering for many reasons — including that Pearl produces that allows the inexpensive and facile conversion of extrusion equipment.

”We have several billion dollars worth of equipment out there,” said Johnson. “Pearl keeps these machines viable. They help people make (plastic) film better, faster more profitable, with better tolerances trash bags and higher barrier films.”

Pearl makes “a variety of bag machines retrofittable,” he added.

Gloucester Engineering has a global footprint, while Pearl — based in Savannah, N.Y., in the Finger Lakes Region — has a more confined market that now can be expanded.

“We can help Pearl with representation all over the world, and Pearl can give us access do do bag making,” Johnson explained in a telephone interview. “We can recommend each others products. you have two companies working on the same thing.

“Our goal is to get to one-stop shopping,” he said. “The way you differentiate yourself today is service: Pearl gives us reach, we give them financial security.”

Gloucester’s oldest continuous non-sea based manufacturing company, Gloucester Engineering was instrumental in the invention of the plastic bag in the 1960s. At its peak, the company — the founding plant in the Blackburn Industrial Park, and the one that remains at its entrance — had as many as 400 employees; as the company began to decompose while owned by a German conglomerate committed to other fields, Gloucester Engineering employment dropped to 65.

It has, however, doubled that since the beginning of its turnaround, Johnson said, and is in the midst of celebrating its 50th year of operation. During an anniversary celebration earlier this year, state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante touted the company as the “comeback kid” of Gloucester and Cape Ann’s industrial sector.

“Gloucester Engineering decided to acquire Pearl Technologies Inc. because Pearl is an industry leader in consumables, especially in converting which is a complimentary market for (Gloucester Engineering,” said Laurent Cros, Gloucester Engineering’s vice president for after-market and service operations. “They will provide Gloucester Engineering with a very attractive additional portfolio of products that can now be offered to GEC’s large and global install base.

“Both companies enjoy a period of high growth and the combination of resources (systems, processes and talents) will help the combined entity to grow even further,” Cros said. “Pearl’s excellent responsiveness and customer service culture will enhance Gloucester Engineering’s customer support capability and image in the market even further.”

Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3464, or at rgaines@gloucestertimes.com.