Saturday June 15, 2019

Pulaski Manufacturer Spreads Wings Westward

Felix Schoeller expanding in California after acquisition of company in Anaheim
By Lou Sorendo

    Go West, Felix Schoeller.


    Pulaski-based Felix Schoeller North America recently acquired the Alameda Co. in Anaheim, Calif. as the company takes the first step in expanding its footprint in North America. 


    Established in 1978, Alameda is a leading converter and distributor of digital printing media, mainly in the southwestern United States.


    The Alameda brand has been established as a recognized standard in the pre-press proofing market as well as in the large format imaging industry.


    Felix Schoeller N.A. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Germany-based Felix Schoeller Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of imaging products for professional, commercial and home printing applications. It has been servicing the analog and digital printing markets, as well as the pressure-sensitive adhesive industry, with papers, films and specialty substrates for more than 50 years.


    The California company will now be known as “Alameda — A Felix Schoeller Company.”


    Alameda had been a customer of Felix Schoeller for almost 20 years.


    Michael Szidat, president of Felix Schoeller N.A. in Pulaski, said Alameda’s business is somewhat similar to operations in Pulaski.


    Szidat has been at the helm in Pulaski for nearly nine years.


    Alameda bought large rolls, or mill rolls, of inkjet papers and converted them to the finished sizes that professional printing operations use, Szidat said.


    Alameda’s sales were predominantly on the West Coast and the company purchased the majority of its inkjet paper from Felix Schoeller.


    Jim Walsh, Felix Schoeller’s vice president of sales, had built a solid relationship with the owner of the company.


    “So, when the owner of Alameda began thinking about retiring and selling his company, we expressed our interest in potentially buying the business,” Szidat said.


    Szidat said the reason why Felix Schoeller acquired Alameda Co. is fairly simple.


    “In North America, all of our digital imaging products were converted, packed and distributed in our Pulaski operation,” he said. “As long as you work with a few large customers — such as large international original equipment manufacturers — with a limited number of national distribution hubs, that works really well. You can produce large volumes and ship full truckloads to a limited number of destinations.”


    However, Szidat said, “As markets evolve and we begin to get much closer to the end user of our products, we need to operate much more regionally.”


    He said quick turnaround times and short freight strategies to reach users of Felix Schoeller’s products are becoming essential.


    “Operating a converting and distribution site on the West Coast enables us to reach a market that we couldn’t participate in from our Central New York facility,” Szidat said.


    The acquisition looks to enhance Felix Schoeller’s competitiveness.


    “Felix Schoeller’s value proposition has always been our unique integration, as we actually manufacture most of the papers that we convert, pack and sell,” he said. “Now, we are adding two things on top — regional converting and distribution that will make us a stronger player across North America, and the ability to reach certain end users directly with some of our offerings.”


    Szidat said Felix Scholler expects this acquisition to not only generate additional sales on the West Coast, but also help grow business out of Pulaski.


    Synergistic bond: Szidat said Felix Schoeller N.A. was drawn to Alameda Co. due to “some nice synergies.”


    “The company operates equipment that is very similar to ours in Pulaski,” Szidat said. “The main machines are from the same company as ours, the production processes are almost the same, and the finished products and even the packaging are very similar to what we do and use in Pulaski.”


    Szidat noted the acquisition will impact operations in Pulaski.


    He said certain products that are currently being finished in Pulaski and shipped to customers in the Southwest now will be converted in Anaheim.


    “On the other hand, the Anaheim operation manufactures products today that end up on the East Coast,” Szidat said. “These will obviously be made in Pulaski at some time.”


    “But the biggest impact we will see is going to come from additional businesses that we are planning for both sides as part of our new distribution strategy,” he said.


    Szidat noted the acquisition is part of an overall strategic plan on behalf of Felix Schoeller N.A. as the company plans on expanding its footprint further in North America.


    “We are now present in two locations and have good coverage of the East and West coasts,” he said. “A logical next step is to look for expansion opportunities in the Midwest and South.”


    However, Szidat said the company will “take a somewhat opportunistic approach.


    “If we find an acquisition target that fits well, we will strike. If not, we are not in a hurry.”


    Due to proprietary reasons, Szidat did not share what the transaction is worth, but did indicate its scope.


    “The operation, employment and sales out of Anaheim are about 10 percent of what we generate out of Pulaski,” he said. “So, the size of the acquisition was manageable within our financial means.”