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How to sell a Plating company in these environmental times

October 27, 2021

Q. I've been around manufacturing companies all my life and I came across a new client who wants to retire but sell his plating company. Certainly others have come across this same dilemma. How do you manage these environmental concerns and sell a good company?

Tom Gottlieb
- Cincinnati, Ohio

October 2021

A. Hi Tom.
I think the first thing to realize is that whether you and I and the seller like it or not, it's probably not sellable (maybe not even legally sellable) without an environmental audit aimed at discovering whether the building or land is contaminated.

I am not an expert on this, but I think a "Phase 1" environmental audit is done first, then if any contamination is discovered a more thorough "Phase 2" audit and correction is done.

You or the buyer should retain an environmental attorney, but if you don't, my advice is that the seller sell to the buyer any leftover chemicals that the buyer will use, whether in tanks or drums or bags, individually. But not in sham fashion, only stuff that he actually intends to use -- and here's why:

Our country suffered a lot of very costly contamination from midnight dumpers -- firms hired to properly dispose of chemicals who then improperly disposed of them and disappeared. The EPA's somewhat draconian solution to this problem is 'cradle to grave': it doesn't matter who the waste generator retains to dispose of a waste or how much they pay, they remain responsible for that waste forever anyway. So my layman's understanding is that if the buyer pays individually for the chemicals and they actually intend to use them, they are supplies not waste.

Plating shops can be an environmental problem, but they are also an environmental solution. Steel rapidly rusts away, and if 'sustainability' is more than a buzzword, plating shops were first on the scene, fighting corrosion so things don't quickly rust away to uselessness and the metal have to be re-mined, re-smelted, re-rolled, re-fabricated, re-finished, re-packaged, and ultimately re-landfilled constantly.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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