In making long-term plans for the family-owned injection molding business Ironwood Plastics Inc., Mark Stephens sought the advice of Victor Mancinelli, president and CEO of agriculture industry supplier CTB Inc. in the summer of 2010.
The original idea had been to prepare Ironwood for potential acquisition in about three years.
But as Stephens and Mancinelli talked further, they came up with a new plan. This led to Ironwood's acquisition in December by CTB, a wholly owned subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
In late December, Stephens said in an interview, “This really came out of left field.” The amount of the deal was not disclosed. Ironwood has been set up to have long-term stability for both employees and customers. This deal also created an avenue for international growth for Ironwood's current customer base.
In addition, it opened up a new line of business possibilities within Ironwood and CTB of Milford, Ind. Stephens said that Ironwood and CTB may not appear to have a lot in common but both companies were seeking something to help them in the plastics segment.
They later realized that what they needed was an expert in new product development and injection molding. Ironwood operates two plastics molding facilities. One is in Ironwood, Mich., while the other one is in Two Rivers, Wis.