Waukesha County firms acquired from receivership, potentially saving 200 jobs

Lincoln Industries to continue Southwest Metal Finishing, Inventix Manufacturing operations

Nebraska-based Lincoln Industries has acquired two affiliated Waukesha County manufacturing businesses from receivership, potentially saving 200 jobs in the county by continuing operations.

New Berlin-based Southwest Metal Finishing and Menomonee Falls-based Inventix Manufacturing filed for receivership in late 2017. The two companies combined to owe more than $19 million to First Midwest Bank and had more than $15 million in other debts and liabilities. According to federal court records, the businesses were incurring operating losses of $250,000 per week in 2018 and financing after April was uncertain.

Southwest Metal Finishing specializes in premium decorative and functional chrome plating while Inventix Manufacturing provides tooling and die casting services. The companies have around 200 employees in Waukesha County and another 400 in Mexico.

According to court records, Lincoln Industries hired substantially all of the employees after acquiring the firms.

Marc LeBaron, Lincoln Industries chairman and chief executive officer, said while his company didn’t have an opportunity to perform its typical due diligence the businesses were thriving just three or four years ago. He said Lincoln Industries is now working to bring work back to the Wisconsin operations.

Court appointed receiver Michael Polksy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

By early January a deal was in place to sell the companies to Cincinnati-based Armor Group for $21 million. After performing due diligence, Armor dropped its offer to $13 million and ultimately walked away from the deal.

In total, the companies were marketed to 125 interested parties and 48 non-disclosure agreements were signed. There were a total of eight bids made and three in-person management presentations.

Lincoln Industries, which describes itself as the largest privately-held metal finishing company in North America, eventually emerged in April with a $11 million offer to purchase nearly all of the companies’ assets.

All three companies are suppliers to Harley-Davidson and LeBaron said the acquisition would help his company expand its capabilities and market reach while strengthening relationships with customers like Harley.

“The combination of our companies will drive substantial technological and operational synergies,” LeBaron said in a statement. “While we provide more than 40 finishing processes, and significant manufacturing capabilities, the addition of aluminum die cast manufacturing and nickel chrome plating on aluminum die cast products are important additions to our offerings.”

A Harley-Davidson attorney was present for Waukesha County court proceedings to approve the sale and the deal required the motorcycle maker to pay the court-appointed receiver $400,000.

A Harley spokesman said the company does not comment on individual supplier relationships. LeBaron said Harley was “keenly aware” of the process and had “a vested interest in seeing something happen” to avoid having to find a new supplier.

The deal also included two real estate properties – at 2790 S. 167th St. in New Berlin and N60 W16350 Kohler Lane in Menomonee Falls- that are currently home to manufacturing operations for the two companies.

A third property at 2445 S. Calhoun Road in New Berlin was acquired in February by Invictus Real Estate II LLC, an affiliate of Pindel Global Precision, for $1.75 million. New Berlin-based Pindel plans to move its headquarters to the 57,000-square-foot facility.

Not all disputes surrounding Southwest Metal Finishing and Inventix have been resolved. A group of five companies owed money by the companies filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against in federal court in early May, a day after the sale closed.

Those companies – Service First Staffing Inc., Willer Tool Corp., Custom Engraving Ltd., Goodrich & Associates Inc., and Temp Rite of WI, Inc. – say combined they’re owed about $88,000.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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