Specialty Grease Firm Aims to Grow

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Engineered Custom Lubricants, which makes specialty lubricating greases for OEM applications, has moved into two buildings in Illinois and plans to expand further through acquisitions.

The company currently has 24 employees. Formerly based in Detroit, ECL relocated to Aurora, Ill., in 2011. Paul Bedford, co-owner and vice president of sales and marketing, explained the initial plan was to move into an 18,600 square foot building in Aurora and then close the Detroit facility. By the time we got all the construction done, we had grown so much we couldnt fit everything in the building, Bedford recalled. We actually moved into the building because we had purchased it, done a full build-out of the inside with brand new labs, manufacturing and everything.

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Realizing it needed more space, the company then acquired an adjacent 30,000 square foot building in 2012. So we moved a lot of the manufacturing into the 30,000 square foot building facility next door, and then that allowed us to close completely the facility in Detroit, he said. So now we have got about 49,000 square feet for manufacturing between the two buildings.

The company is working on additional expansion via acquisitions. We have a mergers and acquisition company in place, and theyre helping us to try to acquire companies, he said. We expect to close on a couple companies in the next 12 months.

According to Bedford, the company had about $5 million in sales in 2009 and expects to do about $18 million in business this year. With acquisitions, our goal is to get to $100 million in revenue by 2021 and to stay focused exclusively on OEM grease applications, he said.

Bedford and Ian Rowell, president, are each co-owners of ECL. They acquired ECL in 2010. Both formerly worked for BP.

About 80 percent of ECLs business is onboard, filled-for-life automotive applications, Bedford said. The majority of our business is in interior components, like seat tracks, seat recliners, door latches, seat latches, steering columns, he noted. We also have a business in powertrain, the surrounding drive shaft or prop shaft, and brakes.

Engineered Custom Lubricants was founded in 1954 as a supplier to the automotive industry in Detroit. The company now has customers throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. According to Bedford, ECLs business grew 38 percent in 2011, 28 percent in 2012 and is expected to be up another 30 percent this year. Globalization, customer response and technology leadership strategies have driven the growth, he added.