Wisconsin Manufacturing News

With news from Lauterbach, Ladish, Plexus, Lavelle, Briggs & Stratton, and Magnetek.

Lauterbach plans expansion in Sussex
Lauterbach Group Inc. is planning to build a 61,000-square-foot addition and purchase new equipment at its flexographic printing plant in Sussex. The $9.6 million project will create 15 new jobs.

The company will receive a $6.5 million Industrial Revenue Bond allocation from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to help finance the addition. The firm also will receive up to $25,000 from the state in a Customized Labor Training grant to train 12 new and 28 existing employees on the new equipment and processes.

Industrial Revenue Bonds are bonds free of federal tax issued by local governments, and the proceeds are loaned to new or expanding businesses for development projects. The interest rate is generally below the going prime rate.

For more information on the Department of Commerce and its programs and services, contact the area development manager at http://commerce.wi.gov/BD/BD-AreaDevManagers.html.

Ladish to acquire California firm
Cudahy-based Ladish Co. has entered into an agreement to acquire Chen-Tech Industries Inc. of Irvine, Calif., for approximately $59 million in cash and stock. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2008.

Kerry Woody, president and chief executive officer of Ladish, said, "Chen-Tech, with projected 2008 sales of about $50 million, is a highly regarded manufacturer of jet engine forgings for mutual customers such as General Electric. Chen-Tech’s expertise in forging nickel-based and titanium components for smaller jet engines serving single aisle, regional, and business aircraft is a great complement to Ladish’s expertise in forging larger engine components."

Chen-Tech has been led by Shannon Ko for more than 15 years. Ko and his team will continue to manage Chen-Tech after the acquisition, Woody said.

"By combining Chen-Tech’s strengths with Ladish’s material technology and global market position, we have laid a foundation to capitalize on long-term growth opportunities. The merger provides Ladish with a broadened product offering and increased market share on mutual aerospace programs. Working together, we believe synergistic savings will further enhance long-term profitability," Woody said.

Ladish manufactures highly engineered, technically advanced components for the jet engine, aerospace and general industrial markets.

Plexus to close Massachusetts plant
Neenah-based Plexus Corp. has announced plans to close its factory in Ayer, Mass. Plexus plans to shift production from the Ayer plant to its other facilities, primarily in Neenah. The closure of the facility is expected by March 2009.

Dean Foate, president and chief executive officer of Plexus, said, "As part of our proactive, strategic planning process we have carefully evaluated the value proposition and long-term viability of each of our United States manufacturing locations to ensure we optimize capacity to deliver intelligent, profitable growth that generates ROIC in excess of our weighted average cost of capital. After this analysis, we determined that our Ayer facility was not strategically aligned with our future growth prospects. We also concluded that we could deliver greater value to our Ayer facility customers by providing services at other Plexus locations, primarily in the United States."

Ginger Jones, chief financial officer of Plexus, said, "This decision will result in the separation of approximately 170 employees from the approximately 65,000-square-foot Ayer facility over the first and second fiscal quarters of 2009. We anticipate restructuring charges related to this action of approximately $2.0 million beginning in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2008. We anticipate that this closure will generate savings in the range of $4 million to $5 million annually."

Lavelle acquires Connecticut company
Burlington-based Lavelle Industries, Inc., a manufacturer of custom molded rubber and plastic parts, has acquired Syntex Rubber Corp. of Bridgeport, Conn. Lavelle said the acquisition was fueled by a combination of the state of the economy and rising material costs.

A vertically integrated manufacturer, Lavelle Industries offers a broad spectrum of materials and processing options. Manufacturing capabilities include: conventional molding, injection molding, rubber-metal bonding, lathe cutting, secondary operations, and custom material development.

Lavelle manufactures a line of toilet repair products under their Korky brand name.

Economic slowdown clips Briggs
Briggs & Stratton Corp. recently reported fiscal fourth quarter consolidated net income of $479,000, or 1 cent per share, which was down from restated net income of $18.1 million, or 36 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The Milwaukee small engine manufacturer’s fourth quarter sales shrunk to $581.1 million from $677.6 million a year earlier.

The company attributed the drop in net sales decrease to decreased shipment volumes in both its engines and power products segments, as the economy cooled. For the full fiscal year, Briggs reported that its 2008 consolidated net income was lower by $33.5 million compared with the prior year.

For fiscal 2009, the company projects that net income will be in the range of $42 million to $46 million. The estimate is based on the assumption that consolidated net sales will grow 5 to 6 percent due to pricing initiatives. The estimate assumes that the markets for all of the company’s product categories will be relatively flat in fiscal 2009 and production levels will be similar to those in fiscal 2008.

Magnetek caps strong fiscal year
Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc. reported fiscal fourth quarter net income of $6.4 million, or 21 cents per share, up from $1.8 million, or 6 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

Magnetek’s quarterly net sales grew to $27.2 million from $22.9 million a year earlier. The firm’s balance sheet remains debt-free with more than $15 million in cash as of June 29.

"The sales growth we’ve experienced over the past year is not only a result of market conditions but is also due to our efforts aimed at increasing sales in the growing automation and wireless markets, as well as the successful introduction of new products such as the E-Force inverter and Quattro(TM) elevator drive," said David Reiland, Magnetek’s chief executive officer.

For the full fiscal year, Magnetek recorded revenue of $100.0 million, up from $87.7 million in the prior year. The company’s gross profit for the year amounted to $29.4 million, up from $28.1 million in fiscal 2007.

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