UK acquisition boosts supply chain security and flexibility 03 November 2015

Optimas OE Solutions LLC has announced the acquisition of a UK of bespoke critical fasteners and special cold forgings, in a move that enhances supply chain security and flexibility of support for key OEM customers.

Based in the historic spa town of Droitwich, south west of Birmingham, Barton Cold Form is clear evidence that advanced cold forming is very much alive in the United Kingdom. The name echoes the company’s inception as a manufacturer - 80 years ago, in the back room of a pub called the Barton Arms. The modern incarnation can already lay claim to stand amongst the upper quartile of European fastener manufacturing. The 5,000m2 production facility, into which Barton moved in 2006, was meticulously designed for efficiency and equipped with a range of cold forming, rolling and secondary operation machines. Latest technology introductions include a new pointing and drilling machine, a SEMS rolling machine, advanced first inspection technology and, most recently, an additive manufacturing prototype service. The plant is TS 16949 accredited and already has a strongly established record of supplying leading automotive OEMs and tier suppliers - including significant volumes through Optimas. Barton has hit headlines recently for its success as a British company reshoring manufacturing contracts that had previously migrated to Asia.

Optimas was established in July 2015 when senior management took Anixter’s OEM Fasteners segment private, supported by American Industrial Partners - a New York based, operationally oriented, middle market private equity investor. Headquartered in Glenview, Illinois, Optimas provides engineered fastener, C-part and distribution solutions to high performing OEM businesses with complex supply chains across the globe.

Barton becomes Optimas’ second manufacturing site, joining a facility at a Wood Dale, Chicago, acquired in 2008. The plant gained strategic significance following a major investment programme instigated in 2012, by Optimas president and CEO, Ian Clarke. Investments include the addition of several Formax advanced, high-speed cold formers from National Machinery.

Commenting on the Barton acquisition, Ian Clarke said: "Considering the growing need of our customers around the globe, increased manufacturing capacity and expertise allows Optimas to better keep pace with demand, protect supply chain pipelines and continue to offer custom solutions that are otherwise unavailable elsewhere."

The UK plant will retain the Barton name and continue to be led by Andrew Nuttall, as operating director, and his current management team. Nuttall said he firmly believed the acquisition would "lead to positive benefits for our suppliers and customers”. He added: "Our partnership with Optimas solidifies the long-term stability of our business, accelerating our ability to act on growth opportunities with the industry."

Barton employees were informed of the new ownership on 2nd November at a presentation led by Andrew Nuttall – accompanied by Dan Jack, Optimas SVP EMEA; Mike Tuffy, SVP global procurement; and Tim Taylor, newly appointed as Optimas vice president for global manufacturing.

Left to right: Dan Jack, Mike Tuffy, Tim Taylor and Andrew Nuttall

Presenting his credentials to the Barton team, Taylor recalled that his 30-year career in manufacturing started at Ford Motor Company. Advancing through Huck International he moved on to fulfill senior roles with McLean-Fogg Company for eleven years, which included heading its global vehicle systems business with plants and offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Taylor served three years as president and COO of Tempel Steel Company, Chicago until 2007, since when he has been managing partner of a manufacturing consultancy.

Referencing recent events in UK fastener manufacturing, Taylor was emphatic about the opportunity now for Optimas to invest in growing Barton’s capacity and capability, providing enhanced security for its employees as well as for Optimas’ customers.

The Barton and Wood Dale manufacturing operations now report to Taylor, who, says Ian Clarke, “will split his time between Wood Dale and travelling globally as he leads our effort to expand our manufacturing strategy and footprint around the world”.

Dan Jack underlined the significance of the Barton acquisition to major OEM customers, particularly in supporting the rapid growth Optimas is experiencing with key automotive accounts. “This is all about a growth strategy for Optimas,” he stressed. “We’re successful, we want to be more successful and profitable. Key to that is an integrated supply chain.”

Mike Tuffy told Fastener + Fixing Technology the investment would dovetail into an already initiated programme to develop and refine Optimas’ global portfolio of strategic manufacturers. “Having our own manufacturing is fundamentally a growth strategy, underpinning the critical supply chain security our customers now demand. It also provides a solution-oriented engineering capability, which we have already demonstrated at Wood Dale allows a tighter, more effective relationship with our customers’ own engineering and design teams. That all contributes to the growth and profitability of Optimas, which is what ultimately matters to all our stakeholders.”

Claire Aldridge Deputy Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 743 889

Having spent a decade in the fastener industry experiencing every facet – from steel mills, fastener manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, as well as machinery builders and plating + coating companies, Claire has developed an in-depth knowledge of all things fasteners.

Alongside visiting numerous companies, exhibitions and conferences around the world, Claire has also interviewed high profile figures – focusing on key topics impacting the sector and making sure readers stay up to date with the latest developments within the industry.