Industrial Magnetics Inc. (IMI) has been adding new equipment and product lines to its portfolio throughout the past decade to bring to life its vision to offer a complete range of metals sorting and material handling solutions to the scrap recycling industry.
The 2017 acquisition of eddy current separator (ECS) maker Javelin Manufacturing by IMI represented one critical step in its ability to widen its magnetic equipment product line. In September 2020, IMI made another bold commitment with its acquisition of 125-year-old Walker Magnetics, long one of the recycling industry’s leading suppliers of magnetic equipment.
States Dennis O’Leary, chief business development officer of IMI, “Walker is a well-known, well-respected brand in the North American space and abroad. There is not much consolidation in this space, so when the opportunity came around to acquire Walker Magnetics Group—a brand celebrating its 125th anniversary this year—we knew we did not want to take a pass.”
Moving forward with a full roster
Mergers may bring to mind notions of “rationalization” and shedding unnecessary assets. As IMI views Walker, the crucial aspects of the acquisition are the people, products and industry relationships and knowledge that Walker Magnetics brings to the new partnership—and that IMI will retain.
“Nothing is more important than human capital,” states O’Leary. “You cannot fake professionalism and experience, and we were very fortunate in the course of the acquisition to retain a quality group in whole that makes up the Walker sales and engineering staffs.”
O’Leary says post-merger progress has been swift, even with the initial stages of the process having taken place during the pandemic.
“The integration with the IMI sales and engineering teams has been largely successful, even given the initial and inevitable integration hiccups and the use of multiple remote office locations,” he comments. “The Walker group has a vast knowledge, installation and applications base from which to lean on and assist customers with future needs.”
Going forward, the Walker brand under the IMI umbrella comes to the scrap market with a combined product line to suit nearly every customer request.
Meeting the scrap industry’s needs
As IMI and Walker begin charting their future course, one of the benefits of the merger clearly will be a horizontal product line that can serve scrap recyclers across numerous applications.
O’Leary says that while both IMI and Walker have established themselves firmly in the scrap market and share a similar customer base and channel partners, they have done so “with vastly different products, so this acquisition is one plus one equaling more than two because there is very little crossover or cannibalism between brands.”
The Javelin brand of eddy current separators and magnetic stainless separation conveyors that have been in the IMI portfolio since 2017 are joined by what O’Leary calls the “core Walker legacy products that will always be sought after, and we are pleased to maintain the continuity of the brand by offering them.”
That Walker product line includes several metals separation devices, but also a complete line of lifting magnets the metals recycling industry has relied upon for as long as ferrous scrap has been moved by automated material handling methods.
For the newly combined IMI and Walker enterprise, “Each brand fills product gaps that were evident before we executed the acquisition,” says O’Leary. “Walker brings a new base of customers and opportunities. Early returns have been positive, and the exposure for the complimentary products is positive.”
The company faces the future with confidence and is investing to show it.
Expanding to serve the market
The commitment by IMI to grow after the expansion is on clear display in Boyne City, Michigan, where IMI is adding 36,000 square feet of manufacturing space to support its expanding presence in the scrap market.
The addition will more than double IMI’s existing manufacturing space in its hometown. “The new space will house a variety of work cells designed for efficient changeover to meet the wide array of products we manufacture,” says Casey House, IMI’s director of operations.
The expansion project began in the fall of 2020 and is set for summer 2021 completion. “We have been able to maintain our current pace of business through the project and will be well-positioned for continued growth,” says Craig Scachitti, IMI’s general manager. “Much of this additional space is earmarked for manufacturing Walker brand products,” he adds.
Summarizing the merger’s goals and the planned future of IMI and Walker together, O’Leary states,
“Walker is such a great brand and presence in the recycling sector that, in general, our goal in acquisitive growth is to ensure the disruption is positive to our existing brands.”
For IMI, adding the Walker brand is “our next step in expanding our permanent, electromagnetic and electro-permanent magnetic technology and systems for industrial applications in and around the recycling sector,” says O’Leary.
O’Leary says scrap recyclers will like what they see coming from the IMI and Walker joint effort. “This combination gives us the ability to elevate the experience with our customers and channel partners beyond being simply transactional. The future for IMI and its scrap recycling customers needs to be profitably sustainable, and that is the future we are charting.”