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 user 2009-10-09 at 10:46:24 am Views: 60
  • #22647

    New owners hope color toners will add to current success

    OCT 09- Faced with the shutdown of the company, the loss of their jobs and those of nearly 40 other employees, Larry Berti and his partners did what they thought best and made an offer to buy Coates Toners.The three completed the deal late last year, retained most of the workers and set in motion plans for growth by adding color toners to the list of products the company makes for use in printers and copiers.If the $7.8 million in sales through July is any indication of performance, the company is going to exceed the $10.5 million projection for this year.”We’re on target for probably $11.5 million to $12 million,” said Berti last week after a tour of the company’s buildings and offices off bucolic Country Club Road.The trio of Berti, Paul Clothier and Jim Collins estimated a conservative sales figure in their plan to buy the company from parent owner Sun Chemical and had an even lower expectation their purchase offer would be accepted.

    “The story’s amazing how it all happened,” said Berti, a former sales manager turned chief marketing officer.They were up against four or five much larger suitors for Coates and rode the ups and downs of the negotiations that at times had them in and then out of the picture. In the end they were the last ones standing and purchased Coates for an undisclosed price.”We put a plan together that talked about the best way forward,” said Berti. It looked at the products manufactured at Coates, which ones made money and which ones needed to be made to stay in business.

    Sun Chemical indicated it wanted to get rid of Coates’ operations in the United Kingdom and the United States. Had it not found a buyer for the Dallas Township business it acquired in 1978, there was a “good possibility … it would probably close,” said Collins, the company’s chief operating officer.The three men had a number of things in their favor when they decided to make the switch from workers to owners.

    They essentially had been running the company, which they said was the third largest in the aftermarket business. Coates sells its products to manufacturers and distributors around the world.”We knew that the business was profitable,” Collins said. “It always was profitable.” They brought years of on-the-job experience to the deal. Berti, 49, of West Pittston, had been with the company 15 years. Collins, 62, of Nanticoke, had been there 18 years and handled a variety of responsibilities in human resources, finance and information technology. Clothier, a native of the UK and a resident of Harveys Lake, joined Coates in 1982 as the manufacturing manager.

    They had long-standing relationships with customers and suppliers. “They knew or had confidence in the fact that we could run the business,” Berti said.He and the others made a point to add that the company’s loyal and skilled workforce stood behind them. “Our employees are some of the best employees a company could have,” Berti said.

    He also lauded the local law firm Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald and Pennstar Bank for their assistance and said he would match them up against bigger firms and banks. “I would say that they are as good as anybody,” Berti said.Not to be forgotten was the benefit of having a recognizable and trusted brand dating back to 1877 when Coates Brothers was established.”The Coates name is still strong,” said Clothier, the chief executive officer.

    He, Berti and Collins intend to build on that strength and said the addition of the color toner will help.They completed the second phase of their plan in July with the purchase of the Sun Chemical’s UK assets in Midsomer Norton.Coates recently installed the equipment from overseas, added two workers and expanded the company’s research and development operations.”It extends the life and the potential growth of our business,” Berti said.