JR Automation plant is part of sale

The JR Automation Technologies plant in Stevensville is pictured in 2017. The company was sold this week to Hitachi, a company based in Tokyo.

STEVENSVILLE — The parent company of JR Automation Technologies reached a deal this week to sell the company to a Japan-based corporation for $1.425 billion.

Crestview Partners and Hitachi Ltd. announced late Tuesday that the two parties entered into a “definitive agreement” for Hitachi to acquire JR Automation and its subsidiaries.

The sale includes the JR Automation facility in Stevensville at 7275 Red Arrow Highway.

JR Automation designs, builds and programs custom advanced automation solutions. JR Automation, which is based out of Holland, has more than 2,000 employees – 80 percent of which work in technical capacities.

Lizzie Uhl, marketing and corporate communication manager for JR Automation, told The Herald-Palladium on Wednesday that there are no plans for layoffs, restructurings or closures.

“JR has a proud heritage. We are a well-known brand,” Uhl said. “There are no plans for a name change. Details on branding and marketing would be determined in the future.”

Uhl said employees at the Stevensville location were notified of the transaction Tuesday night – shortly after the news release was made public. 

“We are very excited to partner with Hitachi to take this next step in the company’s evolution,” JR Automation CEO Bryan Jones said in the release. “… On behalf of everyone at JR, I would like to thank the team at Crestview and outgoing Chairman Mike DuBose, for their outstanding partnership and leadership during this period of dramatic global growth for JR.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals.

JR Automation, which designs and builds custom automation equipment, completed a 25,000-square-foot expansion to its existing building in Stevensville in 2018.

The Stevensville plant originally opened under the name of Dane Systems in 1990. JR Technology Group LLC acquired Dane Systems from the Huizenga Automation Group in 2015. (Though inquiries were made, the current number of employees in Stevensville was not provided.)

Dane Systems designed and made manufacturing equipment for aerospace, automotive, construction, consumer products, food processing, furniture, and medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Since 2015, JR Automation has grown from $170 million in sales and five production facilities in North America to more than $600 million in sales and 23 facilities worldwide.

Mike DuBose, the outgoing chairman of JR Automation, said it’s been a privilege working with JR and Crestview.

“Over the past four years, we have built on JR’s strong entrepreneurial passion for custom automated solutions and put in place systems and processes that have allowed the company to rapidly scale around the world,” DuBose said in the release. “… With the global resources of Hitachi continuing to support the JR Automation team, JR will be able to continue on its phenomenal growth trajectory.”

Hitachi is based in Tokyo and recorded revenues for fiscal 2017 – which ended March 31, 2018 – at 9,368.6 billion yen, which is equivalent to $88.4 billion.

The Hitachi Group has about 307,000 employees worldwide. Hitachi produces digital technologies in a range of sectors, including power and energy, industry, distribution, water, urban development, finance, and health care.

Hitachi has expanded its factory automation business in the United States since buying U.S. air compressor-maker, Sullair LCC, in 2017.

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