August 15, 2023
Advances and expands belting and high-value component solutionsFenner Precision Polymers recently announced the acquisition of Lumsden Corporation, a leading manufacturer of industrial conveyor belting as well as related solutions for a wide variety of applications including food processing, heat treating, mining, glass treating, printing and canning.
The opportunity for collaboration began back in 2013 when Jack Krecek, divisional managing director, Fenner Precision Polymers met Glenn Farrell, CEO, Lumsden Corporation at a Lancaster Chamber of Commerce dinner and the two quickly realized their respected companies had similar interests.
“Our companies shared sales reps, customers, etc., and we developed a peer/mentorship relationship through the years. It became stronger during COVID as we navigated similar threats and challenges to our businesses,” Krecek said.
“We sell through independent sales reps throughout North America and when we started talking about acquisitions as an opportunity for growth—Lumsden Corporation came up again and again in conversation,” said Brian Slingluff, vice president and general manager, Fenner Precision Polymers -US. “We approached Lumsden with the idea that there was some synergy and a similar approach to the marketplace. It seemed like a perfect fit.”
A Shared HistoryManheim Manufacturing and Belting Company started in 1911 (Manheim, Pennsylvania) by three area businessmen as a manufacturer of conveyor belting for agricultural markets.
The company’s Balata natural rubber conveyor belting soon developed a strong regional reputation, leading Manheim to supply flat power transmission belts to general industry. These power transmission belts were used by various railroads to drive the generators of electrified rail cars. The company was purchased by Fenner in 1984.
Lumsden Belting has been manufacturing metal conveyor belts in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for 45+ years. Founder Alexander D. Lumsden put an emphasis on quality, customer service and innovation for areas like food and beverage, industrial products and electronics. At one point Hoyt Wire Cloth (Lumsden Corporation) was part of a local conglomerate that included Manheim Belting and a few other companies.
“So, there was a period there where both companies had similar ownership for a number of years in Pennsylvania,” Slingluff said.
Lumsden brands include Wiremation Conveyor Belting and Flexx Flow while their other side of the business is the Hoyt Wire Cloth brand. Hoyt Wire Cloth is largely used in crushed stone, sand and gravel, concrete and asphalt, coal, and recycling applications. Wiremation is focused on food processing, heat treating, fiberglass, glass, and steel applications. Flexx Flow serves food processing markets identical to Wiremation. Under the acquisition, all product brands will be retained and rolled up under the Fenner Precision Polymers portfolio of belting and high-value component solutions.
“All of these brands overlap very well with the products and technologies offered at Fenner,” Slingluff added. “Fenner’s largest product categories are belting and high-valued components. Hoyt fits perfectly into our high-valued components business and obviously Lumsden fits into our belting business.”
New OpportunitiesWhen COVID hit it became evident that you needed to be in some recession-proof industries, and nothing is more recession-proof than the food and beverage market according to Slingluff.
“Food and beverage and material handling are markets that will greatly improve with the acquisition of Lumsden,” Slingluff said. “We like where these product segments fit into our overall growth strategy.”
“They sell the same way we do which is value,” he added. “Lumsden is not the lowest cost producer, they never intend to be. The products they make drive a lot of value and lower cost of ownership, and that is exactly what we’re doing here at Fenner.”
“Without question or reservation, this partnership is just the move we envisioned to take our business to the next level,” said Glenn Farrell, CEO, Lumsden Corporation in the official press release. “We’ve considered offers prior to this in the past, but always in the back of our mind was the thought of how ideal it would be to partner with Fenner, where we share the same location, similar markets, and the simple fact that they are such a trusted industry leader.”
Technology & InnovationThe acquisition allows both organizations the room to develop new products and technologies in the future. For example, Slingluff said that Lumsden is doing some things around shaping and finishing that is a little bit different in the industrial marketplace. “They also have some patented belting products that drive performance and longevity,” he added.
“There’s opportunities in this area as well,” Slingluff said. “Product development is all about getting away from metal into longstanding materials. Obviously with our relationship with Michelin, we intend to leverage that very heavily in the coming years.”
“Bundling sales will also be the norm,” Krecek added. “You’ll see an assembly line with Lumsden belts, Fenner PowerMax pulleys, tensioners, etc. It will be our ability to bring in a bundled solution to the customer, so they don’t have to look at equipment from multiple sources.”
“We expect to see a significant investment in infrastructure from the federal government,” Krecek said. “A lot of the raw materials for infrastructure are serviced by belts or wire cloth. Potentially, these new products and technologies will allow us to take advantage of some of these investments once they’re approved.”
Infrastructure investments over the next decade include growth in areas like crushed stone, sand, and gravel.
Also, the acquisition of Lumsden creates a natural extension into the company’s R&D process with polymer development, providing opportunities to engineer next-generation materials.
“We can bring a whole lot to the table as far as R&D is concerned,” Slingluff said. “With Michelin behind us, there’s a lot of support. We think we can take some of Lumsden’s technologies and try some new things.”
With Tires, Around Tires and Beyond TiresThis sums up Michelin’s current mission statement. Krecek said that Fenner fits in the ‘Beyond Tires’ objective.
“We plan to grow as fast as we can and expand beyond our core product offerings to other applications. The growth potential and market share gains all played a critical role in this decision,” Krecek said. “And we will definitely look closely at other potential acquisitions in the near future.”
The Future of Belt ApplicationsBelting, in general, is evolving in the transfer from metal to composites. Total cost of ownership is playing a much bigger role as the longevity of cleaner, more efficient belting products takes center stage.
“Belting fits perfectly in automation,” Slingluff said. “The more automated these manufacturing facilities become, the more they’re relying on the movement of materials through robotics. You’ll see some new innovations and opportunities in moving and conveying in the future.”