Wisconsin Manufacturing News

With news from Orbis, Modine Manufacturing, Magnetek and Janesville-based Allied Systems Ltd.

Orbis acquires Canadian firm
Orbis Corp. an Oconomowoc-based subsidiary of Menasha Corp., has acquired Norseman Plastics Holdings Ltd. of Toronto, Ontario.

Norseman manufactures plastic reusable containers, trays, bins and pallets used in bakery, beverage, dairy, recycled material/waste collection, food service, agriculture and meat processing applications.

Included in the acquisition are manufacturing and warehousing facilities in Toronto; Howell, Mich.; Osage City, Kan. and Kissimmee, Fla. Norseman Plastics has approximately 600 employees in North America.

According to Jim Kotek, president of Orbis, "This acquisition strengthens Orbis’ position as a leader in plastic reusable packaging and provides us with tremendous growth opportunities in diverse markets. Our customers are continually looking to Orbis for leadership and expertise in ways to reduce their supply chain costs with reusable packaging. Norseman’s diverse product line, strong customer relationships and industry knowledge are consistent with Orbis’ vision and expertise."

"Norseman’s expertise and leadership in markets in which Orbis currently does a small amount of business will allow it to solidify and increase its share in targeted markets," said Arthur Huge, president and chief executive officer of Menasha Corp. "In addition, Norseman’s strong history in engineering and product development will lead to enhanced solutions for the customers of both businesses."

Losses mount for Modine
A painful restructuring is continuing for Racine-based Modine Manufacturing Co., which reported a fiscal second quarter loss of $13.2 million, or 41 cents per share, compared with net income of $10.4 million, or 32 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The provider of thermal management technology and solutions reported quarterly net sales of $433.3 million, up slightly from $428.7 million a year earlier.

"Although we anticipated fiscal 2009 to be a challenging year as we continue to implement our four-point recovery plan, our second quarter performance was clearly a disappointment. During this period of heavy restructuring, our business, like a number of others in our sector, has been buffeted by the impact of economic, financial and credit market turmoil, sluggish North American commercial vehicle production volumes and, more recently, a marked decline in European automotive production volumes," said Modine president and chief executive officer Thomas Burke. "These economic and end-market conditions, combined with continued operating inefficiencies in our original equipment-North America segment and a shift in sales mix toward lower margin products in our original equipment-Europe segment, contributed to a 170 basis point decline in the company’s gross margin in comparison to the prior year. We are continuing to execute on our four-point recovery plan and are taking a number of proactive steps to address our business performance and underlying cost structure. We remain encouraged by new program opportunities in our core thermal management business. Meanwhile, as a prudent measure, until economic and end-market conditions improve, the company is reducing its fiscal 2009 guidance and closely evaluating its debt covenant compliance."

Bradley Richardson, executive vice president  and chief financial officer, said, "The combination of this period of heavy restructuring and the associated risks, along with the overall decline in the credit markets and ensuing economic uncertainty, make it even more difficult to predict future conditions within our served markets. Amid what is tantamount to a near perfect storm of negative influences on our business, we believe our four-point plan remains central to positioning Modine to return to profitability and achieve our long-term return on average capital employed objective."

Magnetek’s profits grow
Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc. reported third quarter net income of $881,000, or 3 cents per share, up from $499 million, or 2 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The manufacturer of digital power and motion control systems used in material handling, people moving and energy delivery reported quarterly sales of $26.4 million, up from $22.8 million a year earlier.

"With the exception of alternative energy, all of our major product lines experienced year over year sales growth, due in part to continued strength in our served markets, but also due to targeted sales efforts in new markets and the continuing acceptance of new products such as AC drives for mining applications and our Quattro elevator drive," said David Reiland, Magnetek’s president and chief executive officer.

Reiland, who retired Friday, will be succeeded by Peter McCormick. Reiland will remain on Magnetek’s board of directors.

Another Janesville auto-related plant to close
Allied Systems Ltd., an Atlanta-based auto and truck transportation company, told state officials that it will close its Janesville plant on Dec. 23, the same day that the city’s General Motors plant is expected to close.

All of Allied Systems’ 117 employees in Janesville will be permanently laid off, the company told the state Department of Workforce Development.

More than 1,200 GM employees will lose their jobs because of the plant closure. More job losses will come from the companies that serve and supply the plant.

Logistics Services Inc. (LSI) told the DWD it will close its Janesville plant and lay off 159 workers. Flint Special Services Inc. also said it will close its Janesville plant and lay off 28 workers. Both companies provide materials for the GM assembly line in Janesville. In addition, Lear Corp. notified the state agency that it will eliminate 371 jobs, beginning Dec. 23. Lear supplies interiors and seating systems to the GM plant.

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