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 user 2009-10-09 at 10:47:02 am Views: 82
  • #22732

    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

    “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.