Originally created 06/07/01

Lapp Insulator grows with purchase of rival



Electric insulator manufacturer Lapp Insulator Co. said its Washington County operations will be strengthened by the recent acquisition of a competitor.

On Tuesday, the LeRoy, N.Y.-based company announced it has purchased the polymer insulator division of German-based CeramTec AG, a leading producer of lightweight silicone rubber polymer insulators.

Yavuz Erkan, Lapp's vice president and general manager, said the new product line will complement the ceramic insulators being produced at its factory in Sandersville.

He said Lapp's entry into the lightweight insulator market will open new sales opportunities for the traditional ceramic insulators produced at the 150-employee plant located between Augusta and Macon.

"It allows us to share technologies between the U.S. and German plants for further innovation," Mr. Erkan said. "It expands our global sales distribution channels in Europe and the Middle East."

CeramTec's high-voltage insulator division served electrical power transmission, substation and railway markets.

Mr. Erkan said the acquisition will probably not result in new jobs in Sandersville, where the company's low-voltage insulators are produced.

The acquired operation employs 250 people in Wunsiedel, Germany. The operation will become a subsidiary known as Lapp Insulator GmbH.

Lapp's LeRoy plant, located near Rochester, N.Y., produces high-voltage porcelain insulators and bushings.

The CeramTec purchase, completed late last week, makes Lapp the world's No. 2 producer of electrical insulators. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lapp Insulator was founded in 1916 by John S. Lapp, a pioneer in the design and manufacture of high-voltage insulators.

In 1998, Lapp was acquired by its current management team from Chicago-based Eagle Industries.

The Sandersville factory, Washington County's No. 2 employer, was built in 1967. The plant produces its ceramic insulators from kaolin, a white chalky clay, that is supplied by Thiele Kaolin Co., Washington County's top employer.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or bized@augustachronicle.com.