JW Aluminum Sees Opportunities in Slowing Industry

Date: 07/30/2007

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JW Aluminum sees opportunities in slowing industry

By Dan McCue , Staff Writer

In spite of an industrywide slowdown that has lingered now for nearly five quarters, JW Aluminum in Mt. Holly continues to grow, adding two more companies to its corporate portfolio during the month of May alone.

On May 15, the company, which specializes in flat-rolled aluminum products, completed its acquisition of Rollex Aluminum's rolling plant in Jackson, Tenn. The purchase significantly grew JWA's capacity and added 131 employees to its payroll.

Just eight days later, JWA announced it had purchased Coastal Aluminum Rolling Mills Inc., which operates a rolling mill in Williamsport, Pa., and has a diversified product line that includes applications for the aerospace industry.

No terms of these acquisitions have been disclosed, but a spokesman for JWA said they are part and parcel of a strategic plan that's been unfolding since the Lowcountry company itself was acquired by a private equity group, Wellspring Capital Management, in 2003.

Just months later, in April 2004, the company began its steady march toward growth and diversification with the purchase of two foil rolling plants in St. Louis, Mo., and Russellville, Ark.

"What's happening is we're buying small companies with which there are synergies that we believe we can capitalize on within our business model," said Sammy Peek, JWA's director of marketing. Peek added that in many respects the acquired companies are reminiscent in terms of size and scale to what JWA was at its founding 28 years ago.

"Just as important as what we have in common, the different facets these businesses bring to our company has allowed us to diversify and grow in niche markets at a time when many in the aluminum industry are saying it's a time to exercise caution," he said. "As a result, we've managed to meet or exceed our budget projections while our competitors are struggling."

JWA was founded in 1979 as Jim Walter Metals, a division of Jim Walter Corp. The company initially produced cast aluminum coils for use in construction and home building applications and has since grown into a 400-employee producer of high-quality light gauge sheet, foil and coated aluminum products shipped to markets worldwide.

Read more about this story in the June 11 issue of the Business Journal.

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