TORONTO-National Rubber Inc. of Toronto has purchased Baker Rubber Inc. of South Bend, Ind., the largest crumb rubber producer in North America, for $4.2 million ($5.8 million Canadian). With the Feb. 14 acquisition, National Rubber-a manufacturer of recycled-rubber automotive parts-will bolster its presence in the U.S. as well as expand its markets into rubberized asphalt, pneumatic tires and other end-uses.
``We didn't produce a broad enough range of crumb rubber. We acquired Baker's production capacity and market know-how (to combine) with our technology applications,'' said National Rubber President and CEO T.W. ``Ted'' Pattenden.
National Rubber, a subsidiary of Clairvest Group Inc., a Toronto-based merchant bank, said it will operate its recently opened scrap tire recycling facility in Flat Rock, Mich., and Baker's crumb rubber plant in Chambersburg, Pa., under a new entity, NRB Materials Inc. Baker's older crumb rubber plant in South Bend, Ind., will be closed and the equipment moved to the other facilities.
Baker also had ceased managing a tire recycling facility in Mesa, Ariz., it opened in 1993 with Neste Oil Services Inc., according to Mr. Pattenden.
Former Baker President Tim Baker will oversee sales and marketing for NRB Materials at its headquarters in South Bend.
National Rubber also operates a scrap tire processing plant in Toronto that annually supplies about 30,000 tons of crumb rubber to the firm's two manufacturing facilities there. They produce automotive and industrial parts, athletic and playground surfaces and roofing materials.
With the combined operations, National Rubber will ultimately process 70,000 tons of ground tire rubber a year, Mr. Pattenden said.
The Baker operation is expected to add about $11 million to National Rubber's annual sales of $44 million, most of which is generated from parts sales to auto makers.
National Rubber approached Baker about the acquisition, Mr. Pattenden said, as his firm was looking for a granulating operation to complement its current operations. Baker, which supplies end-users, did not have the resources to expand into product development, he said.
Last year TIRE BUSINESS ranked Baker Rubber as the largest producer of crumb rubber in North America based on 47,000 tons produced in 1994. National Rubber will continue producing Baker's Micron ultra-fine ground rubber, Mr. Pattenden said.
``We're committed to grow this business,'' he said of the Baker acquisition, adding, ``This is not the last plant we want to build or acquire.
``We've made a significant commitment in the U.S. and Canada to promote the recycling of tires into value-added parts and materials.''
Only in the last couple of years has National Rubber delved into the tire recycling market due to the shrinking supply and rising cost of industrial scrap. It converted from uncured industrial scrap rubber to tire-derived rubber as a raw material feedstock.
The firm developed its Symar-D technology to revulcanize tire rubber, enabling its products to incorporate a higher concentration of the previously cured rubber.
``Our proprietary process for the manufacture of Symar-D, coupled with a range of crumb rubber feedstocks, allows us to displace more expensive natural and synthetic rubbers in many applications,'' Mr. Pattenden explained.