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U S Cast Parts Industry Turmoil

Release time : 2015-06-11 12:35:59
Continuing and generally widespread softening in demand for cast and forged parts is gradually changing the landscape of North America's cast parts industry. Because the bearing industry is so tied to and interdependent with the cast parts industry, following is a wrapup of a few representative recent developments. Wisconsin Die Casting has ceased operations. The Milwaukee company had a checkered history but since 2002 had specialized in zinc and aluminum castings, both raw and with a wide variety of finishing and secondary operations. The entire plant, with machinery and equipment, was auctioned off last month. The company operated as Badger Die Casting until it was foreclosed in 2002 when the previous owner was indicted for stealing employee retirement and medical funds. It reopened under new ownership as Wisconsin Die Casting in mid-2002. Metal Technologies shut down its gray iron casting facility in West Allis, Wisconsin at the end of February, idling a quarter of its company-wide capacity. Other plants in Wisconsin, Michigan and Germany remain online. Hodge Foundry Co. (Pennsylvania) has been acquired by Elyria Foundry Co. (Ohio); it produced large gray and ductile iron castings, up to 1000 tons. Elyria manufactures a similarly oriented product line, up to 25 tons. Both companies focus on energy, mining, gas compression and mineral processing equipment markets. American Aerospace Technical Castings (Arizona), a smaller specialty investment caster, has moved into a new, larger facility in Phoenix which more than doubles its manufacturing floorspace. The company specializes in precision investment castings for commercial and military aerospace and aviation applications. Matrix Metals (Texas) has been acquired from Jefferies Capital Partners by India's Sanmar Group. Matrix produces steel castings for a variety of oilfield, rail, and agricultural markets. The sale involves four plants; Sanmar had been a key vendor to at least one. At the same time, Sanmar is spending more than $30 million to triple its metalcasting output in India. Meridian Technologies (Canada) will reorganize as Meridian Lightweight Technologies, following a $55 million recapitalization move and equity-for-debt swap. The company, which is the world's largest supplier of magnesium diecast parts for the automotive industry, faced increasingly tight financial and cash flow issues. With operations in several countries and over 1200 workers, part of the restructuring agreement involves seeking lower cost venues for future plants; a greenfield facility in Mexico will come online later this year. The recapitalization allowed Meridian to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection. Meridian CEO, Robert Caruso, said: "This transaction, including the new capital and reduced debt level that will result from it, is the last step necessary to position the new Meridian Lightweight Technologies to overcome the current industry conditions that have hampered our ability to achieve sustainable profitability, including increasing magnesium costs, declining OEM production volumes and a weakened U.S. dollar," Hayes Lemmerz International is closing an aluminum wheel casting plant in Gainesville, Georgia in response to "global overcapacity" for light vehicle aluminum wheels and increasing imports from low-cost countries. Approximately 300 people will lose their jobs. Like Meridian, the company also will move production to a plant in Mexico. Metaldyne LLC (USA), a division Asahi Tec Corp. (Japan), has closed plants in Greenville, North Carolina and Farmington Hills, Michigan. Greenville production will move to a nearby plant in Greensboro, while Farmington Hills production will move to New Castle, Indiana. Metaldyne's plants are operating at sharply reduced capacity, dependent largely on suspension components for the U.S. auto industry. Since its acquisition by Asahi Tec, Metaldyne has shuttered 9 plants in the U.S., leaving 14. The company has 12 plants in Europe and 3 in Asia. A.G. Anderson Ltd. (Canada) has been acquired by AmeriCast Technologies (USA). AmeriCast is owned by private equity firm Castle Harlan. AmeriCast previously acquired Atlas Castings and Technology. But AmeriCast has now divested all of its iron plants, leaving it to focus entirely on ferrous sand casting, finished and unfinished. Target markets are energy, mining, locomotives, and light rail. Marathon Automotive (USA), though Contech LLC, has acquired three diecasters out of bankruptcy -- Lunt Manufacturing, a magnesium casting specialist in Illinois; Amcan Castings Ltd., an aluminum caster based in Canada; and Toora Poland S.A., an aluminum caster in Poland. Marathon acquired Contech in 2007, although Contech has also been known as Consolidated Die Cast and Sealed Power. Contech produces castings and forgings for the automotive and light truck markets. Wray Thorn, Managing Director of Marathon Private Equity, said: "The ability of the Marathon Automotive Group and Contech to respond to these situations was critical in these transactions, which demonstrate our stated strategy to capitalize on opportunities in the automotive and commercial truck markets at a time when many companies in these sectors are lacking access to capital." Aerospace and defense market specialist, Danko Arlington (Maryland) announced a 14,000 square foot expansion. The company specializes in military and commercial aluminum and bronze sand castings, but also operates a pattern making shop, foundry, and CNC machine shop. Similarly focused on aerospace and defense, Advanced Metals Group (USA) is expanding three operations -- U.S. Castings LLC, an aluminum caster in Washington state; Mabry Castings, a steel sand caster in Texas; and Ross Aluminum Castings in Ohio. The company also owns two other aluminum casters -- Oberdorfer Aluminum Castings in New York, and Peerless Foundry in Connecticut. All of the companies were acquired and assembled by Advanced since 1999 and it, "continues to have a strong appetite for acquiring more foundries, particularly those which no longer have a strategic fit with their parent companies." Advanced describes its business as utilizing green sand, lost foam, air set, no bake, permanent mold, die cast and shell mold processes to create gray and ductile iron, malleable iron and aluminum castings. In addition to aerospace and defense, Advanced produces for the automotive, industrial, chemical, oil field and agricultural markets. Diversified Machine Inc., has acquired a Butler, Indiana metalcasting plant from Citation Corp. (USA). The plant will be closed and equipment and contracts will be moved to DMI's recently acquired facility in Bristol, Indiana, about 75 miles away. DMI acquired the Bristol plant from Aluminum Casting and Engineering Company (USA). Citation acquired the Butler plant via its 1996 acquisition of Bohn Aluminum. Citation said: "Exiting permanent and semi-permanent molding allows us to focus on the growing sectors of our business. This strategic decision supports capital investments we've made in our ductile iron and diecasting businesses."