Former Owner of Straw Manufacturer Optimistic About Prospects

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(Image courtesy of Precision Products Group Inc.) (Image courtesy of Precision Products Group Inc.)
INDIANAPOLIS -

The former owner of Aardvark Straws in Fort Wayne says his company is "very bullish" on the future of its remaining divisions. Indianapolis-based Precision Products Group Inc., which closed on a deal Monday to sell the paper straw manufacturer, also owns Paramount Tube in Fort Wayne, Euclid Medical Products in northern Ohio and Huizhou Fusheng Insulation Materials Co. Ltd. in China. PPG Chief Executive Officer and largest-single shareholder Dave Hooe says Aardvark was built as a niche business and its quality made its popularity take off once the growing consumer movement away from plastic straws took hold.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Hooe described growth opportunities he sees with PPG. "We believe there's a real upside-potential for our Euclid Medical division," he said. "With significant changes happening in the medical packaging field, we believe that we've got some great ideas that we'll be launching here in the next months that will help take that division to the next level." He says Paramount Tube features a "tremendous staff" and is poised for potential expansion of its product offerings which currently includes supplying custom products for customers in the electrical, packaging, medical and converting fields.

Hooe says the initial vision for Aardvark was more for custom markets. "Even though we began to market the (Aardvark) product towards what we felt were environmentally-conscience people, areas," he said. "I don't think we really anticipated how that would really explode into the current demand, which is really driven by this interest in an eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws." He adds the success of Aardvark was bolstered by other manufacturers releasing "inferior" products that made the company stand out.

A market shift toward "more mainstream restaurant demand," Hooe says, was "really not who we are," so the decision was made to listen to "several" offers for Aardvark. He says three significant potential investors materialized, but "the phone was ringing on a regular basis" from interested parties. Hooe says Aardvark's sale to Wisconsin-based Hoffmaster Group Inc. made sense, because he believes paper straw demand will continue moving in the direction of a mass consumer audience.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, PPG Chief Executive Officer and largest-single shareholder Dave Hooe described growth opportunities he sees with PPG.
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