With Intelligrated's $40 million purchase of FKI Logistex's North American operations last month, old friends were reunited and new life was breathed into some venerable material handling brands.
"It is very exciting for us for a whole host of reasons," says Chris Cole, CEO of Intelligrated. "It gives us a much broader tool chest to solve the material handling needs of our customers."
Cole was the chief operating officer of Pinnacle Automation when it was bought by U.K.-based FKI PLC in December 1999—a purchase that resulted in the formation of FKI Logistex North America. Among the well known brands in the Pinnacle arsenal were Buschman, Alvey, White Systems (sold by FKI in 2005), Crisplant, and Real Time Solutions. In 2001, Cole and Jim McCarthy, who had left his position as president of Buschman in 2000, co-founded Intelligrated. McCarthy now serves as Intelligrated's president and chief operating officer.
For Cole and McCarthy, acquiring the brands they once managed makes the purchase particularly gratifying. "It's a great homecoming, joining with so many people we have worked with in the past," says Cole. "We hope to build a good future together."
But what exactly will that future look like and how will the purchase affect current Intelligrated and FKI customers? Cole says there will be no immediate impact for customers of either company's products. Long term, there are reasons for the company and its customers to be optimistic.
For one, Intelligrated brings hands-on experience in material handling that was lacking in FKI's previous ownership by the British investment firm Melrose. Intelligrated also acquires many experienced managers in the United States, including Steve Ackerman, the former president of FKI North America, who has been appointed executive vice president of Intelligrated. It also gains a wide range of manufacturing capabilities, including plants in Ohio, Missouri, and Kentucky, as well as operations in Canada and Mexico. This greatly expands Intelligrated's reach throughout the continent and further enhances its existing ISO 9001: 2008-certified manufacturing capabilities.
Customers should see increased offerings from Intelligrated as it integrates the new brands into its portfolio. For example, Intelligrated gains the Crisplant tilt tray and cross-belt sorting technologies to round out its existing sliding shoe offerings. It also acquires the pick-to-light, pick-to-cart, and voice picking technologies of Real Time Solutions, which makes it a player in the wireless picking market for the first time. Intelligrated also acquires Alvey's stable of palletizing systems and other technologies, and enhances its software offerings and integration capabilities.
At this time, Intelligrated plans to market the Crisplant, Alvey, and Real Time Solutions brands under the Intelligrated banner and will aggressively promote the brands, according to McCarthy.
Along with expanding its product offerings, the deal also gives Intelligrated reach into sectors like the postal, pharmaceutical, and consumer non-durable goods manufacturing markets. "It allows us an opening into new markets and strengthens our work in other markets," says Cole.