Holyoke's Universal Plastics has new owners
Date: 6/20/2012June 20, 2012
By G. Michael Dobbsnews@thereminder.com
HOLYOKE According to the former company president Joseph Peters, the sale of Universal Plastics won't result in the company moving from the city or changes in the workforce.
"This is a good thing. It's win-win," Peters told Reminder Publications
Founded in 1966 originally in Chicopee by James R. Peters, he ran the company with his wife, Frances, and eventually their four sons, Joseph, Michael, James and Richard and daughter Mary Frances. The company's present facility is on Whiting Farms Road.
The new owners are a father and son team, Sunil and Jay Kumar, who plan to serve as on-site owners and managers and have asked the Peters family to stay on indefinitely to help run the company.
Sunil Kumar previously worked as president and CEO of International Specialty Products, GAF Materials Corporation and as executive vice president and member of the board of Bridgestone/Firestone Tires. Jay is a graduate of Cornell University and has worked extensively in the investment arena, most recently as managing principal at PAON LLC.
The terms of the sale were not made public. Universal Plastics has gross annual sales of approximately $10 million and employs 70 people.
Universal Plastics manufactures thermoforming plastic products and has made everything from kayaks to air ducts for the space shuttle and all of the bus stop signs currently used in New York City. Peters said that much of what the company presently does falls under the classification of "advanced manufacturing" precision components for a variety of industries.
Peters explained that his older brother Michael had expressed a desire to retire and he and his other brothers realized they needed to plan for the future. They began to "posture the company to see if there was any interest in what we did."
He explained that through business contacts, he and his brothers met the Kumars who were looking for a manufacturing concern they could buy. They had toured many companies and were impressed by what they saw at Universal Plastics.
"They thought the business had potential as something they could put their teeth in it and make it grow," Peters said.
He was surprised the sale came as quickly as it did.
Peters said the sale is really from "one family business to another family business" and added, "They are wonderful people to work with."
In a statement, Sunil Kumar said, "My son and I have been exploring acquiring a manufacturing company and found Universal to have a unique product line and great reputation within their industry. We think there is a great opportunity for us to grow the company going forward."
Peters stressed that he and his brothers would not have sold the company to a firm that would have moved it or simply acquired the customer list. He said he and his brothers have been "very upfront with the employees" through the process.
Although his brother Richard still plans to retire next year, Peters and his brother Michael will continue to work. Joseph will have the title of CEO.
"I've got a few good years left in me," he said with a laugh.
Peters is involved in a number of community activities. He is chair of the board of the Regional Employment Board and has "a love of workforce development."
"I don't plan on going anywhere," he said.