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Flambeau’s latest addition provides new direction

It's been said that a company is either growing or going away, but it's never standing still. Flambeau Inc., a member of the Nordic Group of Companies, has held to that adage throughout its successful 64-year history.

Clare Goldsberry

August 29, 2011

4 Min Read
Flambeau’s latest addition provides new direction

, has held to that adage throughout its successful 64-year history. Its recent strategic acquisition of Mastercraft Companies, consisting of Mastercraft Mold and Polycraft Industries, is proof that growth remains a big part of Flambeau's long-term success.

Jason Sauey, president and CEO and son of Flambeau's founder W.R. Sauey, sat down with PlasticsToday at the offices of what is now known as Flambeau Phoenix, to talk about the company's history, its strategies for success and plans for the future as it enters more deeply into the medical market via its latest acquisition.

Sauey defines Flambeau, based in Baraboo, WI, as one of the most "interesting plastics processors" in the industry today based on its expansive business mix and capabilities. The company's wide-ranging diversity in the markets it serves and the products it manufactures, many of which are proprietary commercial products, makes it unique among plastics manufacturers. It is this diversification that is largely responsible for Flambeau's success. "We've never been a hostage to any industry or customer or market," Sauey states emphatically.

The company's 10 North American manufacturing facilities also contain both blowmolding and injection molding with a broad spectrum of press sizes and value-added capabilities.

Flambeau's products can be found at retailers throughout the country, and range from hunting and fishing products (Flambeau Outdoors) to Artbin cases to Duncan Yo-Yo's-which the company purchased in 1967-to mail boxes and tool boxes. "We have alliance relationships with a number of large retailers that carry our retail product lines, and our commercial products are sold to customers in over 40 4-digit SIC codes," Sauey explains. "Our packaging products include stock, customized stock and custom packaging solutions."

Molded cases are one of the company's largest product lines, and range from tackle boxes and transport cases, to paramedic cases for EMTs and EMS supplies needed in emergency vehicles. Those are supplied through Flambeau Medical Products division, which also makes first aid cases, trauma drug kits and medical drawer cabinets.

It was Flambeau's desire to serve the medical marketplace to a greater extent that prompted the company to begin looking at companies that might be a good fit. "It was the primary reason we purchased Mastercraft," says Sauey. "They have a nice presence and good foundation in the medical market, which gives us a good platform on which to build. The people at Mastercraft have great skills and good capabilities in both tool building and in plastic part manufacturing, and we look to build on those skills with a focus on medical market applications."

Mastercraft has evolved over the past decade to become approximately 70% medical in its contract manufacturing operations. The company's customer base includes some well-known Fortune 500 medical OEMs in the device, diagnostics and instrumentation manufacturing. 

The mold manufacturing skills that Mastercraft possessed was also attractive to Flambeau. While the company has extensive mold manufacturing capabilities at its other facilities in both injection molds and blowmolds, Mastercraft Mold has expertise in building high-volume, multi-cavity precision molds for small parts. "While we can make complex molds, the parts and products Flambeau has made have typically been larger than those produced by Mastercraft. With the Mastercraft purchase we will have the ability to serve a full range of size requirements for our customer and market interests on a turnkey basis," says Sauey, adding that Flambeau management plans to develop a Tooling Technologies Group that will encompass both the Phoenix and Baraboo, Wisconsin locations.

Flambeau Phoenix will focus on the growing medical market, but the industrial customers that Mastercraft has served for many years will continue to be served from the Phoenix location. "This location will provide a good offering for some of the many industrial customers we have in common, and we'll build on that for the future," Sauey notes.

Dale Behm, formerly the COO of Mastercraft Companies, will be the new VP of sales and marketing for Flambeau's Medical Markets Group.

Founder and former owner of Mastercraft Companies, Arle Rawlings, will serve as a Director on Flambeau's Board, among other duties that have yet to be determined. "Arle has the opportunity to do a lot of meaningful work as we move forward with the integration of the companies, but he will determine the level of involvement that he wants," Sauey says. "We have a high regard for Arle, and in fact the deal was done because of his high level of confidence in the Flambeau organization. There's a lot of mutual respect between us."

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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