Aluplast gains US production with purchase of Chelsea Building Products

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Aluplast's headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Private equity firm Graham Partners has sold Chelsea Building Products, a manufacturer of custom PVC windows and doors and cellular PVC cladding based in Oakmont, Philadelphia, to family owned Aluplast, which has its headquarters in Germany.

Terms of the sale weren't disclosed. The transaction was announced March 21 and it marks Graham's fourth exit from a business in six months.

Chelsea is now a member of the Aluplast Group, which has 24 production sites and sales offices around the world but no manufacturing operations in the US until now.

"We were a very attractive acquisition for them because they wanted to come into North America," Gary Hartman, Chelsea's vice president of sales and marketing, said in a telephone interview. "They saw what Chelsea is doing, what we're about, and how we approach the business. It's similar to what they were doing. It's going to be a very good fit."

With estimated sales of $68m (€63m), Chelsea ranks No. 51 among North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders, according to Plastics News' latest ranking. Hart said about 75% of the company's sales are windows and doors and 25% building products, which includes moulding in addition to siding.

Aluplast, which is based in Karlsruhe, was founded in 1982 by Manfred J. Seitz and has grown its product lines to include PVC windows, doors, roller shutters and controlled domestic ventilation systems. The company has developed windows for many specific markets and boasts that it "offers almost any possible window construction and variation."

Aluplast CEO Dirk Seitz said in a news release that he has high hopes for the Chelsea acquisition.

"We see Chelsea as a cornerstone of our global strategy," Seitz said. "This partnership, and the experience and knowledge of the market that Chelsea brings, will allow us to build a strong platform for substantial growth in the United States. Together, we are excited to combine efforts to pursue long-term, strategic goals."

Chelsea opened in 1975 and was acquired by Graham in July 2011 then held almost 6 years. Through its "activist and operationally-focused ownership," Graham says it grew Chelsea's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by 171% for the last 12 months, according to a news release from the Philadelphia-based firm.

The growth was driven by several initiatives that led to 29 new customer accounts, a 20% increase in manufacturing efficiency with Kaizen programs, and increased capacity for core product lines through two strategic acquisitions.

Chelsea will continue to operate under its brand with the current management and 255 employees.

"Everyone at Chelsea is looking forward to the partnership with this successful global company," Chelsea president and CEO Peter Dewil said in a news release. "It will bring additional technological expertise and research to integrate into our current processes. It also compliments our philosophy of product innovation and continuous improvement, and strengthens our ability to provide the benefits of both to our customers."

Hart said the prospect of new technology is promising.

"Their intent is not to let Chelsea stagnate but to help it grow to be more of a significant player in the North American market," Hart said. "Who knows what the future holds in terms of other plants and products?"

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