Merrillville’s MonoSol celebrates merger with Japanese firm
By karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent September 6, 2012 4:08PM
A traditional Kagamiwari ceremony, or sake barrel breaking ceremony, is performed in a tent outside the MonoSol offices in Merrillville, Ind. Thursday September, 2012. The ceremony was held to celebrate the company's merger with Kuraray Group. The company is now called MonoSol A Kuraray Company. From left are MonoSol president/CEO Scott Bening; Elmer Hart, retired from MonoSol; Stephanie Baker of MonoSol; Fumio Ito, president/CEO of Kurarary; Keiji Murakami of Kuraray, Carlo Soave of MonoSol; George Avdey of Kuraray and Matthias Gutweiler of Kuraray. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:31PM
MERRILLVILLE — About 250 people from countries around the world gathered outside MonoSol’s headquarters here Thursday to toast its recent merger with the Kuraray Group of Japan, their continued success and future growth.
MonoSol, a maker of water soluable films with other locations in Portage, LaPorte and England, was acquired earlier this summer for an undisclosed amount by Kuraray, which has been one of MonoSol’s largest suppliers of raw materials.
MonoSol will continue to act as an independently operated company, while Kuraray’s financial and technical support, engineering and raw materials supply will help the company grow, said MonoSol President and CEO P. Scott Bening.
In a highlight of Thursday’s elegant event, employees, service providers, suppliers and others joined the two companies in a traditional Japanese Kagamiwari ceremony, the breaking of a sake barrel and drinking of the Japanese wine from wooden square cups.
Matt Scearce, a spokesman for MonoSol, said sake is the drink Japanese nobility used to celebrate special events, such as a wedding or the opening or merger of businesses.
“It is believed to bring blessings of health and happiness to all,” Scearce said.
Bening compared MonoSol’s growth since 1953, when it was co-founded by Elmer Hart, who participated in the ceremony, to a sapling as it becomes a young tree.
“Today, MonoSol’s tree officially becomes part of Kuraray’s forest. Kuraray has many branches around the world,” Bening told invited guests, who came from as far away as Taiwan, Germany and Belgium.
Bening said while MonoSol has been his passion for the last 24 years, he realized in order for it to continue to grow it would need to be part of a larger organization that has greater resources.
He said Kuraray is the only company that truly understands the business.
“I look forward to blending our resources and relationships. Together, we can reach our full potential,” Bening said.
“That’s why we acquired them, for the company to continue to grow,” said Keiji Murakami, director, senior executive officer and president of the resin company for Kuraray Co. Ltd. in Japan.
Fumio Ito, president of Kuraray, called the merger a milestone in Kuraray history.
Bening said MonoSol currently has 328 employees, including 25 at its headquarters. He said the company will be hiring machine operators at its LaPorte manufacturing facility in the next few months.
He said Merrillville will remain MonoSol’s headquarters.
Kuraray was established in 1926. Among its products are a Poval film used in some TVs, EVAL film used in plastic fuel tanks and another film used in auto parts, according to a presentation aired at the ceremony.