3M, Combi America and Siat Announce Joint Venture


ST. PAUL, Minn., June 21, 1999 /PRNewswire/ -- 3M (NYSE: MMM - news), a worldwide resource for total packaging solutions, Siat S.p.A., a global packaging equipment manufacturer, and Combi America, a leading case erector manufacturer, announced today that, pending final contract approval, they will create a new packaging equipment resource through a joint venture called Combi Packaging Systems LLC.  As co-owners of this new, independent company, the three packaging leaders are positioned to become a leading North American manufacturer of equipment used in automatic erecting, filling and sealing of corrugated boxes.

"This joint venture brings together three packaging leaders with complementary expertise,'' said Pete Ballos, president and CEO of Combi America, who is slated to become president of Combi Packaging Systems.  "Combi America brings its case erector and packing equipment,  Siat provides its manufacturing expertise; and 3M supplies its vast marketing and distribution channels. Together, the three companies can supply customers with a single source for all of its packaging line equipment.''

Through the joint venture, high volume corrugated carton users can access a complete line of packaging equipment, as well as soft goods such as tape and taping heads through established 3M distributor channels.

No employment changes are anticipated in any of the three companies. All employees of Combi America will become employees of Combi Packaging Systems LLC.

Key to the success of the joint venture is the superior equipment manufactured by Combi America. Combi America designs and manufactures a wide range of case erecting and packing equipment in its 55,000 square-foot facility in Canton, Ohio. Ballos started the company 20 years ago and believes the joint venture will provide significant growth opportunities for Combi America and its 45 employees. "Being part of this joint venture opens Combi America to global opportunities,'' said Ballos.   "The expanded distribution channels, through more than 120 3M sales representatives and distributors, will generate more sales for products manufactured at Combi America. Ultimately, the joint venture secures long-term growth and security for our company and our employees.'' As Combi Packaging Systems president, Ballos will run the day-to-day operations of the joint venture that will continue to headquarter in Canton.  

"Combi America is a leader in the packaging industry because of the experience of its employees.  A joint venture best preserves Combi America's flexibility and independence to continue doing what we do best -- manufacturing the highest quality equipment in the packaging industry,'' said Ballos. In addition to its manufacturing expertise, Combi Packaging System's engineering and design team will capitalize on the growing trend to outsource the assembly of complete packaging lines. Many companies are reducing or eliminating industrial engineering departments typically charged with establishing packaging assembly lines. In response, manufacturers have looked to integrators or packaging specialty distributors to assemble full packaging lines. The joint venture will fill this need with a single source and offer the customer service and technical support that integrators lack.

"Through the 3M distributor network, we can provide ongoing communication and support for the customer,'' said Mike Faust, 3M packaging equipment business manager.  "Customers will have one contact and one place to turn for technical resources.'' Faust continued,  "This is the first three-way joint venture for 3M.  It fits our long-term growth strategy of being a single source supplier of packaging solutions through both soft goods and equipment, combined with experience and service.''

Siat CEO Peter Guella agrees that the joint venture best leverages each company's strengths as well as solidifies Siat's 25-year partnership with 3M.  "With the addition of the case erector product line and 3M distribution channels, this joint venture provides an excellent opportunity for Siat to increase sales of its core product line of packaging equipment,'' said Guella. The direction for the joint venture will come from the six members of the board of directors. Representing Combi America, Pete Ballos, president and Janice Ballos, chief financial officer. Representing 3M, Jim Bauman, manufacturing director of 3M Packaging Systems Division, and Mike Faust, packaging equipment business manager of 3M Packaging Systems. Representing Siat, Peter Guella, CEO, and Ulrich Joerg, President of International Packaging Equipment, a U.S. subsidiary of Siat.  

3M is a diversified manufacturing company with 1998 sales of $15 billion. It has operations in more than 60 countries and employs more than 71,000 people worldwide. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., 3M serves customers in dozens of markets, ranging from Automotive and Industrial, to Electronics, Health Care, Transportation Safety, Office and Consumer. 3M Packaging Systems Division is a world leading supplier of automatic, semi-automatic, and manual packaging systems, as well as a full line of packaging tapes and supplies. For more information, call 651-736-7918 or visit the web site at http://www.3M.com

Siat S.p.A., manufactures several lines of packaging equipment, specializing in case sealers. Based in Turate, Italy, the company has a global reputation for developing top-line automatic packaging machines. For more information, call +0039-02-964951 or visit the web site at http://www.siat.com

Combi America provides custom packaging solutions for case erecting, loading and sealing for customers across the nation. For 20 years, the Ohio-based company has designed and manufactured a variety of packaging equipment from best-in-class case erectors and sealers to customized end-to-end integrated solutions. For more information, call 330-456-9333 or visit the Combi America web site at http://www.combi.com

3M is a trademark of 3M

Siat is a trademark of Siat S.p.A.

Combi America'' is a trademark of IMBX Corporation

To learn more about Combi's automated packaging equipment, fill out this form or call us at 1.800.521.9072.