Graham Group, the parent company of blowmolding equipment maker Graham Engineering Corp. (GEC), recently acquired controlling interest in American Kuhne, the Ashaway, RI-based, manufacturer of extruders, screws, and integrated extrusion systems. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
The controlling interest was acquired from The Kuhne Group of Sankt Augustin, Germany, which is owned by Peter Kuhne. “We have been looking at growth opportunities the last couple of years but taking our time to find a complementary fit as far as philosophy and technology,” Dave Yenor, VP of Global Business Development for GEC, told PlasticsToday. “We had begun a process to vet potential candidates that might be suitable to acquire. One thing lead to another, and we started conversations with American Kuhne.”
The current management team of American Kuhne will retain a minority interest in American Kuhne. No German assets of the Kuhne Group were included in the transaction. “American Kuhne has always operated independently of the Kuhne Group anyway, so the change in control will have no disruptive effect on our business,” said Bill Kramer, president of American Kuhne. “The most important thing is that this change in ownership will not affect our service to our customers or our products, but will bring additional resources and financial support for our future growth.”
From a market perspective, GEC has long participated in supplying machinery to the packaging markets, and has been involved in the industrial molding markets since the mid 1990s, Yenor said. Graham Engineering commercializes many manufacturing technologies, including machinery to produce plastic bottles for motor oil, detergents, dairy, juices, and food products, as well as large industrial parts.
Bringing American Kuhne into the equation now enables the Graham Group to immediately diversify the company’s market presence into the medical industry, while participating with a technology that is a core competency of its current business, plastic processing technologies. American Kuhne maintains several extruders and a medical tubing lab line capable of multi-lumen and taper tube extrusions available for customer trials in its facility in Ashaway.
In July, American Kuhne talked with PlasticsToday about expanding its focus on the medical market with specialized technology in modular systems, micro/compact extruders, and multibore microlayer tubing. “Medical has traditionally been a third of our business but it is now approaching half of our business,” Steve Maxson, VP, Extrusion Systems at American Kuhne told PlasticsToday at the time. “We have some unique technology in modular extruders that has really grown in the last five years.”
The modular extruders feature fast barrel- and screw-diameter changes-allowing for rapid product changes for different size tubing applications. The trend toward modularity boosts uptime and scheduling flexibility. The system allows processors to perform off-line clean-out of the feed and barrel sections for faster resin change-over. Yenor said both companies have a strong presence in their respective fields.
“Graham has very large presence in high production rotary machines and American Kuhne covers a broad range of applications in extrusion with a very strong niche in the medical molding markets,” he said. “That was a very attractive fit for us, especially to broaden our market presence and leverage the core engineering of each company.”