Concours buys AIS to form largest tool/mold firm in North America

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell

Windsor’s Concours Technologies has purchased another local firm, Active Industrial Solutions, in a deal that creates what is believed to be the largest mold and tool solutions provider by sales volume in North America.

The deal, which has been a year in the making, will create a company operating in four countries with about 525 employees with combined sales of $190 million last year.

“The strategy is to become a global player in the market,” said Concours president Andy Aiton, who believes the local company is now North America’s largest in the sector.

“The great thing working with Crestview (the New York-based private equity firm backing Concours) is they’re not interested in downsizing. They want to grow the business.

“We’re scaling up in size. The industry is scaling in three different continents — North America, Asia and Europe.

“Our plan is to compete in all three.”

The deal to purchase AIS, which was founded in 1977, involves only the mold/tool making side of the business.

AIS’s automation division, which was formed in January 2019, remains in the hands of Toronto-based Parkview Capital Partners.

Aiton said the merger of the two companies won’t result in any job losses. The focus will be on integrating the two firms and combining the best practices from each.

“The only thing changing at AIS will be the name on the building,” Aiton said.

Concours, which was founded in 1994, will now have plants and customer service centre operations in Alabama, Tennessee, China and Mexico, as well as locally.

“This deal isn’t just about production, it’s also gives us four customer service centres near our customers,” Aiton said. “We see servicing customers as a side of the business we can really grow.”

Concours is a subsidiary of SyBridge Technologies (Southfield, Mich.), which was created in 2019 by Crestview Partners when it moved into what it calls the tooling and mold mobility space.

Crestview manages funds worth over US$9 billion in aggregate capital commitments.

It’s the second major acquisition Concours has made locally in the past year. Last January, the company bought Valiant Machine and Tool.

“When we took over Valiant Tooling and Machine, that was part of the scaling up,” Aiton said. “We’d maxed out on what we could produce and we needed space.”

The attraction in acquiring AIS was more about the desire to expand product offerings and expanding the customer base, he said, adding that AIS proved an excellent fit for Concours as both its product line and customer base differed.

“We’re known as experts in grills and fascia for vehicles and we really wanted to add lighting capabilities,” Aiton said. “AIS does that really well.

“We were also surprised at how little our customer bases overlapped.”

Aiton said the need to get bigger to compete globally is being dictated by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

He expects to see other local firms doing the same and won’t rule out his company making further acquisitions.

“The OEMs are saying they’re building the same models in the three different regions and they want to go to one company to do all three,” Aiton said. “They did it with the Tier 1s 15-20 years ago and now they’re doing it to the tooling industry.”

Concours’ purchase of AIS is the second such deal involving two local companies since the turn of the New Year.

Windsor’s Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing purchased Mold Services International last month to expand its capabilities with a complementary acquisition.

Automate Canada chair Shelley Fellows said Concours’ purchase is another positive sign for local manufacturing.

“This isn’t a fire sale,” Fellows said. “These are two strong companies integrating.

“We’re not losing them and we’re not losing jobs. It’s all about growth, strength and creating economies of scale.”