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Purchase of Swiss Trio Makes Hardinge More Competitive in Grinders.

Apparently the top management at Hardinge Inc. (Elmira, N.Y.) liked the outcome of its 1995 purchase or a Swiss grinding-machine company, Kellenberger: It just bought another.

And not just one other, but three machine lines that had already been combined into a single company. Just prior to Christmas, Hardinge announced it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the stock of HTT Hauser Tripet Tschudin A.G. (Biel-Bienne, Switzerland) from Germany's Ziersch Grinding Group. The deal, financed with borrowings under Hardinge's revolving credit facility, closed two days later.

The Swiss company HTT was formed in 1994 to consolidate three long-established local grinding companies:

[paragraph] Hauser, which produces jig grinding machines for precision tool and mold making in three size models;

[paragraph] Tripet, whose long history of internal grinding machines includes the introduction, decades ago, of the first ID grinder equipped with NC; and

[paragraph] Tschudin, the producer of high-volume OD-grinding machines, especially aimed at the automotive market.
 With Kellenberger, whose external grinding machines are mostly universal
 models aimed at job shops and mold makers, the new Grinding Machine
 Division of Hardinge can field an array of machines that's substantially
 competitive with Schliefring, the grinding-machine division of German
 conglomerate Korber A. G. The Schleifring (literally "grinding circle") is
 sold in North America through United Grinding Technologies outside Dayton,
 Ohio; it includes such brands as Studer and Blohm and last May added Swiss
 tool- and-cutter-grinder builder Ewag A. G.

Hardinge will pay Ziersch the Swiss franc equivalent of $21.4-million and will assume debt of approximately $1 O-million. The acquisition deal provides, too, for the possibility of indeterminate additional future payments, the value of which depend on HTT's operating results.

HTT had sales for the year ending Dec. 31, 2000 of around $35.1-million and, according to Hardinge chairman and CEO Robert Agan, is a profitable company. Three-quarters of its sales, including all three lines, have been in Europe.

Machines from HTT Hauser Tripet Tschudin have been marketed in the U.S. and Canada through Usach Technologies Inc. (Elgin, Ill.), which will continue as the main outlet. Usach acts as a systems integrator, especially for high-production installations of Tschudin OD grinders, and it has developed special software for the machines, which alternatively run under Tschudin controls (made by Marposs), NUM, or Fanuc numerical controllers.

Some three years after its acquisition of 84-year-old Kellenberger A.G. (St. Gallen, Switzerland), Hardinge moved its wholly owned U.S. sales and service subsidiary from downstate New York to Hardinge headquarters in Elmira. There have been no announced plans for consolidating the newly expanded grinding-machine marketing.

The family-controlled Ziersch Group (Stuttgart, Germany) continues to hold two other grinding-machine companies, Ziersch & Baitrusch G.m.b.H. (profile-grinding machines, Reutlingen-Mittlestadt, Germany) and Schleifmaschinenfabrik ABA G.m.b.H. (creep-feed surface machines, Aschaffenburg, Germany). It had acquired the components of HTT in the merger mania that swept the European machine-tool industry during the early-to-mid-1990s: first it bought much of Tschudin (Grenchen, Switzerland) and then in March 1994 added Hauser-Tripet, itself the merger, one year prior, of Henri Hauser Ltd. and A. Tripet S.A. (both in Biel-Bienne, Switzerland).
 The Tschudin center-type OD grinders that are part of the Hardinge-HTT
 deal, have nothing to do with the Tschudin centerless grinders that
 continued being produced in Switzerland by the Tschudin family after it
 transferred its OD-machine firm to Ziersch in 1992.

Those centerless machines are sold in the U.S. through Long Island-based Tschudin Grinding Systems Inc. (Hauppauge, N.Y.). That sales company offers the high-volume centerless machines whose lineage date back to before the TSCHUDIN 1992 partial sale to Ziersch. It also handles the Tschudin specialty chucking grinders, like an unusual four-spindle, two-wheel machine that produces four parts at a time.

Tschudin Grinding Systems is working on a new 3-axis CNC centerless grinder that general manager Patrick Aubry calls revolutionary. It could start appearing for sale in May, but few details are available at the moment.

Hardinage, Inc., Elmira, N.Y. 607-734-2281.

HTT Hauser Tripet Tschudin., Biel-Bienne, Switzerland. 41-32-344-1152.

Tschudin Grinding Systems Inc:., Hauppauge, N.Y. 631-436-5500.
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Publication:Metalworking Insiders' Report
Date:Dec 27, 2000
Previous Article:Optimism for Metalworking Business Agenda in Washington.
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