C.M. Paula’s ‘buy it, grow it’ style drew Art Technologies

Mason-based holding company C.M. Paula Co. completed another in a string of recent acquisitions, adding a Fairfield metal stamping firm to its diverse portfolio.

Steve Watkins, Staff Reporter- Cincinnati Business Courier
Updated: Aug 29, 2013, 7:11am EDT

“They have a great management team,” C.M. Paula CEO Greg Ionna, left, said of Art Technologies. Next to him is Robb McCoy, president of Art Technologies, and C.M. Paula CFO Bill Creager.

It completed the deal to acquire Art Technologies Inc. on May 18 for an undisclosed price, marking its sixth acquisition in the past seven years. The move is a departure for the fast-growing C.M. Paula, whose three other business lines focus on consumer products and generate about $30 million in annual revenue. Art Technologies diversifies its revenue stream and fits the mold it seeks. And unlike many investment firms that buy companies to expand and sell them, C.M. Paula has a different goal.

“Our philosophy is to buy it, grow it and hold it,” CEO Greg Ionna said. “We want to invest to grow, not just to harvest the business.”

That attitude drew Art Technologies owner Carl Pfirrmann to C.M. Paula. He retired in 2006 but still maintained oversight. He was looking to sell so he could fully retire, Pfirrmann said. He liked C.M. Paula’s model of keeping acquired companies intact, leaving management in place and infusing capital to spur growth.

That’s a common desire, Ionna said, for companies like Art Technologies. Pfirrmann’s father started the company in 1943 and he bought it from his dad in 1971.

“These people grew up in the business,” Ionna said. “It’s hard for them to let go. They like to have somebody come in and be a little bit of a caretaker, rather than buy it and turn around and sell it.”

Art Technologies will keep all of its 32 employees and operate as usual, said Robb McCoy, Art Technologies’ president. It makes hinges and other metal parts for use by manufacturers of autos, trucks and agricultural equipment.