By Mark A. DeSorbo
MONTGOMERYVILLE, PA-It was late 1999 when Air Energy Systems (AES) and MSS Clean Technology Inc. (Buford, GA) teamed up to provide contamination control solutions for numerous processes, a collaboration that recently, yet inadvertently, led to AES acquiring the assets of MSS and those of its wholly owned subsidiary, LSI Cleanrooms, which is also located in Buford.
Ralph J. Melfi, director of sales and marketing for AES, says neither company planned on an acquisition when the two firms formed a strategic partnership exemplified in a series of advertisements that ran in CleanRooms magazine.
“It wasn't the intent,” says Melfi, adding that the association is where the “marriage” began.
MSS and LSI manufacture cleanroom wall panel systems and other components, with MSS geared toward current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs) for the pharmaceutical side and LSI concentrated on the microelectronics arena. AES designs and builds turnkey systems and cleanroom components for controlled environments ranging from ISO Class 3 to ISO Class 8.
Calls placed by CleanRooms to MSS in the United States and Europe were not returned.
Melfi, however, says AES had been looking for a manufacturer to acquire, and when the MSS parent company, MSS Clean Technology Ltd. (York, UK), decided to focus its efforts in Europe, the U.S. MSS operations presented “a natural fit” as well as an avenue for growth.
“We had a tremendous rapport with them,” he says. “With our position in the market and domestic manufacturing, it just made sense for us to take it on from an ownership standpoint. By us taking on the brand names, while they maintain MSS Limited, each is able to deliver more cost-competitive products. It was strategic to pay more attention to our own backyards.”
Adds Linda Jones, marketing coordinator, “It's a mutual recognition of one another's commitments.”
AES, Melfi says, will continue to manufacture cleanroom wall and ceiling panels at the new 40,000-square-foot MSS-LSI manufacturing facility in Buford, which MSS completed late last year. Along with maintaining its own regional design-build operations and national product distribution, AES will also continue the supply and installation of MSS Pharma Systems' cGMP wall and ceiling systems in North America and Puerto Rico.
“It's been a seamless transition,” Melfi adds. “We haven't missed a beat. We acquired two brand names, and we will maintain them. We also see [future] expansion and product development capabilities.”
While AES has been in business since 1986, MSS entered the U.S. cleanroom market in 1994. Two years later, it completed an ophthalmic component manufacturing plant for Alcon ASPEX in Dallas. In 1997, MSS completed a cleanroom for Mallinckrodt Veterinary Biologics (Raleigh, NC), which, according to MSS, was the largest biologics plant in the United States. In 1999, MSS completed a project for 3M in Singapore.