An update on integration into The Vita Group
by Duncan Geddes
Technical Foam Services was formed in 1989 and owned by Duncan Geddes for the past fifteen years. A well-established business, Technical Foam Services (TFS), has continued to grow year on year, and now employs fifty people.
In June 2021, it was announced that Europe’s leading flexible foam solutions provider, The Vita Group, had acquired Technical Foam Services. Since then, there has been a lot of work behind the scenes. Today, Duncan Geddes (Business Manager of Technical Foam Services and Custom Foams) is excited to talk publicly about the integration process and the future of Technical Foam Services as part of the Vita Group for the first time.
The origins of the merger
“I’ve always been aware that, as a privately owned company, it’s difficult to take a business beyond a certain level in terms of size and manpower,” said Duncan. “Over the last eighteen months, especially with the COVID situation, I’ve been going back and forth in my mind about the next steps. Do we go for it privately owned for the next five to ten years, do we form a partnership with another foam company, or should we become part of a large foam company?”
“I had a conversation with an old colleague of mine who works for Vita. He explained how Vita was steadily growing and looking for opportunities to expand, and the conversation went from there. I’d also had interest from a couple of other companies in the industry, one in Europe and one in the States, asking if I was interested in selling my shares, but neither of those grabbed my attention.”
“Vita has been one of our key suppliers for nearly twenty years, so I know the materials they produce, I know their conversion strengths, and I know where they sit in the market. I could see how TFS fitted into the technical division of the Vita Group; it just made a lot of sense.”
“That was the end of March 2021. By May, due diligence was completed. Negotiations were very straightforward. It was like a group of like-minded people getting their heads together and saying; there’s a good business here. How can we take it to the next level? Looking back on it, we were all on the same page from the very beginning.”
Vita and I
“Part of the agreement was that I would also take on the role of Business Manager for Custom Foams in Milton Keynes, which is the technical foam converting division that Vita had had for many years. Ironically, Custom Foams was where I started working in my foam career 34 years ago. In that time, I’ve gone full circle; in fact, I even live halfway between Corby and Milton Keynes!”
“For me, Custom Foams is where it all started. I spent six years there, got some great memories. In fact, when I went there on 1st July as part of the announcement, three people I worked with all those years ago when I was 18-years-old were there, which was fantastic. The people at both TFS and Custom Foams already know each other. For me, business is all about the people, and knowing this is a good group is a massive plus.”
Learning the Vita way
“I’ve always worked in the private side of the industry; the entrepreneurial side, and I’m enjoying the challenge of working within a corporate structure for the first time. What particularly impressed me about how Vita has integrated TFS into their company is that I report to a group of directors in the technical division. We have weekly meetings, and they are very aligned with their views and feedback on how we’re doing and objectives. As a Business Manager new to Vita, working for this particular group of people is making the whole integration process much easier for me.”
“Because TFS has been an independent company, it always batted in its corner. We’ve always approached things with a ‘small boys fighting against the big boys’ mentality. It is a change of mindset as we embrace the fact that we’re part of a large group, to learn that there are new and often better ways of working.”
“Here we are five months after the integration began, and things have settled down very, very quickly. What’s great about TFS and Custom Foams working even closer together is that TFS has always been particularly good at producing smaller components made from foam—for example, polishing pads, medical filters, that kind of thing. Smaller items where quality is paramount. On the other side of the coin, Custom Foams have always been really good at block converting for technical applications. They’re big in the aviation sector, the packaging market such as case inserts, filters for the aquatic market, that kind of thing. The two companies have complemented each other well for years and never really competed against each other despite both being technical foam converters in the UK.”
“The integration of Custom Foams and Technical Foam Services gives us two manufacturing sites – in Corby and Milton Keynes – each with their range of machinery and production departments. The link is the creation of a unified sale team covering both sites. For a long time, both companies have effectively been working in parallel, so it is great to become sister companies under The Vita Group formally.”
“I’m pretty passionate about Technical Foam Services still being a name in the industry for many more years. I want Technical Foam Services and Custom Foams to be key players in the industry for a long time ahead. Bringing them together under The Vita Group made so much sense. Custom Foams and Technical Foam Services (TFS) are well-known names in our industry, there is absolutely no reason why they can’t be even more recognised in the future. ”
Benefits for customers
“The technical foam conversion industry in the UK has traditionally been made up of small, independently owned companies that are all very good at what they do but stand alone. That is why the Technical Foam Services and Custom foams partnership is going to be proactive. As a partnership, we employ more than 75 people, have a massive range of machinery and skills at our disposal and are in a great place to grow while continuing to be involved in a wide range of different markets.”
“I think the benefit to our customers is two-fold. Number one, the whole structure of the TFS and Custom Foams partnership is more solid in terms of a wider range of machinery, more experience within two companies rather than working individually. And secondly, TFS now has this direct input into Vita’s manufacturing sites. So, whereas we’ve always converted foam from several different manufacturers around the world, and we still retain good relationships with those manufacturers, we are now also part of a large global foam company as well.”
For further information on the new partnership of Technical Foam Services and Custom Foams, please contact Duncan on Duncan.email@example.com.