Janesville25.6°

Janesville's SSI set to acquire Hazen

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JAMES P. LEUTE
July 9, 2009
— In what's become an all-too-familiar tale, a company that supplies the auto industry finds itself with too much capacity and too few sales in a market where supply chain competition has driven prices through the floor.

The company puts itself up for sale, another casualty in the economic malaise sweeping the sector.


But this time the troubled company isn't in Janesville, a community that's watched thousands of auto industry jobs disappear in the last year.


Instead, it's a Janesville manufacturer that will benefit.


SSI Technologies plans to acquire an Arkansas company in a deal that could add upwards of $20 million in sales and 40 to 50 employees to the Janesville manufacturer.


Company officials said SSI's acquisition of Hazen Powder Products will solidify the local company's position as the largest domestic supplier of stainless steel, high-temperature automotive and non-automotive parts, a specialized and high value-added segment of the powdered metallurgy market.


SSI will buy all of Hazen's automotive powder metal business, ranging from exhaust system flanges and tone rings for anti-lock braking systems to a variety of transmission components.


SSI also is buying some of Hazen's equipment, including presses, furnaces and lathes that will move to SSI's Sintered Specialties Division on Palmer Drive, which will be expanded by about 6,600 square feet.


Hazen employs about 70 people at what is the largest manufacturer in an Arkansas community of 1,600.


David Baum, SSI's president and chief executive officer, said Hazen has been a formidable competitor for 15 years.


Despite a challenging economy, Baum said he pulled the trigger on the acquisition to spur company growth and eliminate a significant competitive threat.


Bruce Corner, SSI's senior vice president, said some Hazen employees might be offered positions in Janesville.


In total, 40 to 50 employees could be needed to handle the increased production.


SSI now has 270 employees at its facilities on Palmer Drive and West Court Street.


Since October, SSI has laid off about 40 employees because of the downturn in the auto sector, which the sintered specialties division supplies. Corner said some of those employees likely will be called back because of the increase in production.


SSI's Controls Technology Division provides sensors for non-automotive industries. It has remained relatively stable, Corner said.


Baum said he is passionate in his desire to grow both divisions in Janesville.



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