C.R. Laurence continues acquisition strategy with Sommer & Maca purchase

April 1, 2008
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL

Officials from C.R. Laurence Co., Los Angeles, a supplier to the glazing, architectural, construction, industrial, and automotive industries, announced March 25 the purchase of Sommer & Maca Industries, Cicero, Ill. Donald E. Friese, CRL's chairman and CEO, calls the deal a “perfect fit” and says it will help better the industry by providing more products and services through more local distribution facilities.

“We’re a niche industry. We all know each other, and in our community, we’re not like other large companies. We take care of each other and try to make our industry better. That’s what we’re trying to do here with this deal,” Friese said during a March 28 interview.

Read a Q&A from the interview below. Click here to read the acquisition news announcement from GlassMagazine.com
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What was CRL's prime motivation behind the acquisition?
Acquisitions have always been part of our company’s strategy; we’ve had about 15 [acquisitions] over 15 years. We purchase companies that put us in a better position to enhance our business. … This is one of our largest acquisitions.

What made Sommer & Maca an attractive purchase?
Sommer & Maca has been around since 1920 and has a great reputation in the glass industry. Their glass machinery manufacturing, in particular, is a perfect fit. Our successful experience in the architectural hardware manufacturing industry made us feel we now had the expertise to add glass and stone machinery manufacturing to our operation. That was a key part of the decision. … Dick Carroll [former president of Sommer & Maca] will stay on as president of the glass machinery division and will head up that operation.

What will happen to Sommer & Maca’s facilities?
We’ve consolidated their distribution facilities into our distribution facilities. They operate six locations and we have 20. The only distribution facility we won’t consolidate is the Sommer & Maca Cicero location, with our Elgin, Ill. facility. All of [Sommer & Maca’s] 90,000-square-foot building in Cicero will be used for the manufacturing division and we will be updating and expanding that facility.

What has been the customer response?
It’s been absolutely amazing. In the past, [Sommer & Maca] had limited inventories and limited distribution. This deal will allow all customers to have a suppliers in 20 different geographic locations, so they can have a local place to service all their needs. [Sommer & Maca] customers previously had only six locations in North America. In addition, the increase in products, services and technology is so phenomenal compared to what they’ve had in the past.

When did the deal start to take shape?
Sommer & Maca and C.R. Laurence have had a very friendly relationship, and we’ve talked about the possibility of [a deal] for 15 or 20 years. They even thought of buying us at one time. We just said, “when the time is right.” And we realized that now the time was right. It's critical to have a relationship with the people you’re going to do an acquisition with. Lloyd Talbert, president of C.R. Laurence, was responsible for doing all the hard work to bring the deal together.

How will the Sommer & Maca deal help C.R. Laurence diversify?
One thing we’re gaining is Sommer & Maca’s stone business program that provides accessories and supplies and machinery for the stone industry. In addition, they produced a complete line of glass machinery, including edging, cutting, washing and belt machinery, which we will continue to manufacture.