Seaway Plastics Engineering
Based in Port Richey, Florida, Seaway is a manufacturer of highly engineered plastic components serving the medical and high-precision end markets.
Founded in 1974, Seaway has steadily built a high-margin business by specializing in quick-turn, prototype, and low-volume plastic injection molding. The company is renowned for its engineering expertise, product quality, and rapid order fulfillment.
In 2014, company leadership recognized an opportunity to achieve further growth through a renewed focus on industries where speed-to-market and full lifecycle production were important, such as medical products, electronics, and aerospace. Accelerating growth in this manner would require expanding the sales and marketing team, along with making equipment upgrades and exploring M&A opportunities.
All these initiatives would require capital to execute, for which Seaway chose to partner with Tonka Bay. Seaway leadership saw the firm as a good fit due to its extensive experience in engineered plastics, the medical industry, and other prototype-to-production business models, which would be instrumental to helping the Seaway management team pursue the company’s growth goals.
One of the early steps in the partnership involved enacting a plan for the two owners to maintain an ownership stake in the business and remain active in management. Both owners sought to transition into retirement, but they felt it was important for them to stay involved to ensure that the next owner retained the culture and service excellence that have made the business so unique.
Tonka Bay and Seaway established a board composed of the two existing owners and multiple outside directors with industry and private equity experience, including Rick Shand, who held the Lead Director role during the investment period. A new CEO, Tom Orr, was also hired, and a CFO and VP of sales and marketing were added to the management team. Together, the board and enhanced management team developed a strategic plan for increasing business growth in the medical and aerospace high-end reliability markets.
The new CEO and Lead Director met regularly outside scheduled board meetings to discuss strategic initiatives involving organizational development, manufacturing operations, sales, and marketing. The lead director’s experience running a private equity-backed business serving highly regulated markets allowed him to understand and appreciate the value of Seaway’s emphasis on engineering and quality to the marketplace.
With an enhanced team and well-defined strategy in place, Seaway and Tonka Bay successfully executed several new initiatives during the investment period. Those included implementing a new ERP system to improve financial reporting and operational processes, along with developing a sales strategy with new sales resources to improve quoting and the targeting of specific customer types. Seaway also acquired Wright Engineered Plastics in Santa Rosa, California, which expanded the company’s medical customer base and geographic reach.
During Tonka Bay’s investment period, Seaway revenue and EBITDA achieved double digit annual growth rates, concentration of medical revenue doubled, and more than 50 jobs were added. In 2022, Seaway was sold to a larger private equity group that valued the company’s experienced management team, well-defined sales strategy, and track record of M&A.
“Our strong performance has been driven by investments in our team and our focus on the medical end-market,” said CEO Tom Orr. “Working with Tonka Bay equipped us with an experienced management team, a well-defined sales strategy and a valuable acquisition, positioning the company well for continued success under new ownership.”