Global Fastener News

1999 FIN – Bossard Buys McIlhons’ Iowa Industrial Products

April 11
00:00 2010

September 20, 1999 FIN – Bossard Systems Inc. acquired Iowa Industrial Products Inc., Bossard CEO Ray Doane announced.

Headquartered in Des Moines, IA, IIP has branches in Cedar Falls, IA, and Mexico, and is a leading fastener supplier to the farm implement industry.
IIP was founded in 1959 by Dan McIlhon.
Ed McIlhon is president and COO. Joe McIlhon is vice president in charge of the Cedar Falls operations.
Joe McIlhon is the current president of the National Fastener Distributors Association, and Dan and Ed are former presidents.
IIP has more than 165 employees and annual sales in excess of $50 million.

Doane, who heads the Portsmouth, NH-based North American operations of Bossard of Switzerland, said the acquisition is “an important step for Bossard Systems Inc., in its objective of being a major player in the ongoing consolidation process in the U.S. fastener industry.”

Doane said Ed McIlhon will continue to head IIP.

Ed McIlhon noted that IIP has been buying from Bossard “from many, many years ago when we jumped into metrics.”
“The charisma and chemistry were right,” McIlhon said of joining Bossard. The philosophy and leadership of both companies are “very consistent and it is important that the blend is right.”
McIlhon described Bossard as “big enough to provide financial stability, but small enough for corporate flexibility.”
McIlhon told FIN that IIP gains financial stability, flexibility and global connections.
“We wanted to be affiliated with somebody global to position ourselves in Europe and elsewhere,” he explained. One of IIP’s major customers, John Deere, is a worldwide customer.
“It was important that we lined up with somebody with global, whether it was this year or next.”

Encouraging the timing this year was a slow farm economy for the past 18 months and projections for the agriculture industry to remain down for the foreseeable future, McIlhon observed. “We needed more capital reserves to grow, and growth is what this is about.”

His father, Dan McIlhon, is 76 and wanting to step out of his semi-active role as chairman.

“Bossard’s leadership in engineering services and global logistics will benefit IIP,” the Bossard company announcement said. “Conversely, Bossard will benefit from IIP’s excellent reputation within their customer base in the U.S. and Mexico, and with their global network of companies have the ability to provide the same high level of services to IIP customers internationally. IIP’s significant volume of metric fastener sales will also ass to the collective purchasing power of the Bossard Group worldwide.

Bossard Systems was established by Züg, Switzerland-based Bossard Group to acquire independent distributors.

Bossard has sales and warehousing facilities throughout Europe, Asia and the U.S. ©1999/2010 Fastener Industry News
Scroll down for more history on Iowa Industrial Products

Iowa Industrial Founded in 1960

Editor’s Note: The following history and description was provided by Ed McIlhon in 2009.

Iowa Industrial Products (IIP) was founded in 1960 by Dan McIlhon. His brother, Pat McIlhon, joined him as a partner in 1966. Pat preferred tools to the nuts and bolts Dan sold and opened his own operation, Tools Inc., in 1976. Dan bought his brother’s shares and returned to sole owner of his company.

Dan had 12 children, six of whom were instrumental in IIP over the next four decades: Ed McIlhon joined the sales team in 1968 while finishing college and worked his way up to president by 1990; John McIlhon served as purchasing manager; Margaret McIlhon Richards and Matt McIlhon handled inside sales; Tom McIlhon was vice president of operations; and Joe McIlhon was vice president of sales & marketing.

IIP saw significant growth in revenue which ultimately led to its sale. Sales were $3.5 million in 1986 and $53.5 million by 1999. The majority of the increase was attributed to its core customer, John Deere.

The customer relationship and heightened sales attracted a buyer and Switzerland-based Bossard bought IIP in October of 1999.
That same month, IIP founder Dan, passed away.

Ed agreed to a five-year contract with Bossard to continue as president of what became Bossard IIP. He finished his contract and stayed on as a consultant for another year.
Joe was then promoted to president and served in that role until he left the company in 2007. Joe was the last McIlhon to leave Bossard in a leadership role.

In 2005, Ed purchased Bossard’s kit and bundle unit that had originated at IIP. He followed in his father’s footsteps and staffed it with family. Two of Ed’s four children and two of his children’s spouses work for what is now Assembled Products Inc (API).

Joe also stayed in the nuts and bolts arena and is currently heading up Porteous Fastener Company’s Chicago operation.

During the families 40-plus years in the industry, all have remained active in the National Fastener Distributor Association (NFDA). Dan, Ed, and Joe all served as NFDA presidents. Matt Ulrich, Ed’s son-in-law, was elected to a three-year term on the NFDA Board in 2009.

Both Ed and Joe worked with the industry and the government on the Fastener Quality Act. Ed co-chaired the Public Law Task Force with Jim Schiele, chairman of the Industrial Fasteners Institute.

IIP and the nut and bolt business have served the McIlhon family very well. They are all extremely grateful that Dan McIlhon took that leap of faith in 1960. His legacy lives on in both the family and industry today. ©2009 GlobalFastenerNews.com

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• Bossard

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