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November 12, 2020

Maine investor group eyes growth with $5.5M acquisition of Lewiston manufacturer

Courtesy / Anania & Associates A group of Maine investors, led by Windham-based Anania & Associates, acquired the Jones & Vining manufacturing plant in Lewiston and relaunched it as Polymer Laboratories and Solutions LLC. The shop floor is seen here.

A Maine investment group led by Windham management company Anania & Associates is launching a new business after acquiring the Lewiston manufacturing facility, equipment and intellectual property of a polyurethane and thermo plastic maker, Jones & Vining, for $5.5 million.

The deal closed Nov. 2 and was made in partnership with the city of Lewiston’s economic and community development office, the Finance Authority of Maine, individual investors, company management and several customers including Framingham, Mass.-based audio equipment maker Bose Corp. and Merrimack, N.H., manufacturer H.F. Staples.

The 88,000-square-foot plant is located at 765 Webster St.

Operations have been rebranded Polymer Laboratories and Solutions LLC, doing business as Poly Labs. All Jones & Vining employees have been retained and a push is on now to grow the business, Scott Knoll, a partner with Anania & Associates, told Mainebiz.

Jones & Vining, headquartered in Brockton, Mass., was established in 1930 as a manufacturer of component parts and tooling to footwear original equipment manufacturers. It opened its Lewiston plant about 35 years ago and added an industrial division to offer foam parts to other industries, including construction/building materials, consumer electronics, medical, furniture and sporting goods, according to its website.

Poly Labs is the former Jones and Vining’s industrial division. 

Prior Lewiston relationship 

The story behind the acquisition began about five years ago, when Anania & Associates led a similar initiative, with largely the same team, to acquire and save the old Philips Elmet tungsten business (now Elmet Technologies) in Lewiston, said Knoll. Elmet is now a growing, thriving employer, he added.

Since then, Anania & Associates has kept in touch with Lincoln Jeffers, Lewiston’s director of economic and community development.

Knoll said his firm was contacted by Jeffers mid-summer, after Jones & Vining in July notified Lewiston employees and customers that the plant would be closing. (Jones & Vining retains its Massachusetts headquarters and its plants in Asia.)

“Due to COVID and other factors, business was down and they decided to close the facility,” Knoll said.

Before the pandemic, the plant employed about 80 people, he said. After layoffs due to the pandemic, the workforce was down to 39 by mid-summer.

Knoll’s team dug into the business.

“Through our due diligence, we became convinced there’s a business here,” he said. 

The company had a longstanding mix of industrial and medical customers and products, including high-quality noise-canceling foam made for Bose military headsets. 

“Hundreds of thousands of parts come out of here in a normal year,” said Knoll.

The $5.5 million investment included the acquisition cost plus working capital to grow the business, said Knoll.

The city’s role in the deal, in addition to connecting with Anania & Associates, including contributing to the capital structure through its economic development fund, he explained.

FAME provided $500,00 through its economic recovery loan program. Select customers contributed capital and long-term contract agreements. Individual investors hail from Portland and Lewiston.

The new ownership has also been working with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to gain Pine Tree Development Zone recognition; the program offers eligible businesses the chance to greatly reduce, or virtually eliminate, state taxes for up to 10 years when they create jobs in certain business sectors, or move existing jobs in those sectors to Maine, according to its website.

“I don’t think there are many states where local investors, the city and state, the finance authority and an investment firm could do what we’ve done now, twice, in Lewiston, to save and grow local businesses in manufacturing,” Knoll said. “We view this as a great example of how city, state and private firms and investors can come together to help drive sustainable economic development in Maine.”

Next steps

With a new name and logo in place, the new ownership is working to build the business back to previous levels and beyond, while expanding its capabilities.

“We’ve been in touch with all of the customers over the last six or seven weeks,” said Knoll. “Purchase orders are starting to come in.”

The team is also reaching out to prospective customers. A new website is expected to be up in the next 10 days. Job descriptions are being written for new hires. Construction updates on the facility are in the works.

“This place is bustling with activity,” said Knoll. “We’re doing this because of the wonderful, long-tenured employees in all functions who can do what very few companies in the world can do with these materials.”

Over the coming years Poly Labs’ investors, board and management are looking forward to investing in the operation to accelerate growth opportunities and expand capabilities, he added.

“Elmet has hired over 40 employees in recent years and hopefully Poly Labs will follow a similar course,” said Knoll.

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November 13, 2020


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