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Sherwin-Williams sues Wooster Brush

BY Ken Clark

Sherwin-Williams says its packaging is being infringed by Wooster Brush Co. and has sued the competitor to cease and desist. 

An article in Crain’s Cleveland Business describes the lawsuit brought by Sherwin-Williams against Wooster Brush.

Sherwin-Williams claims that Wooster Brush Co. copied its packaging. Since around 2000, Sherwin-Williams’ Brush Keeper trade dress has a golden-yellow background, an American flag image and a color-coded stripe, indicating the type of brush in the package.

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Mohawk purchases global tile manufacturer

BY Brae Canlen

Carpet manufacturer Mohawk Industries has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Marazzi Group, a worldwide maker and marketer of ceramic tile, for $1.5 billion in cash and equity. The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of 2013. 

The Marazzi Group is held by the Marazzi family and two private equity funds — Permira and Private Equity Partners. It operates in most major geographies, including Russia, the United States, Italy, France,  Spain, China and Mexico. Marazzi’s 2011 revenues were approximately $1.16 billion.

Marazzi distributes ceramic tile in more than 100 countries through a strong international sales force, which will increase Mohawk’s worldwide growth.

Marazzi has the No. 1 position in the Russian ceramic market, the announcement said. The company operates two manufacturing sites and 21 regional distribution centers. Marazzi owns and franchises more than 300 retail stores that carry only Marazzi products. About 50% of the Marazzi Russian business is sold directly to end users, and the retail advertising done by the stores has created a strong consumer brand

In the United States, Marazzi’s products are sold through independent distributors, home centers and a few company service centers. Leveraging the combined manufacturing expertise, design capabilities and distribution systems, the company hopes to grow its ceramic business.

Jeff Lorberbaum, Mohawk’s chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement: "This acquisition represents the next step in the expansion of Mohawk’s global business and will make Mohawk a stronger company. We found Marrazi attractive because of its solid management team and leadership positions in the United States, Russia and Europe. Marazzi’s differentiated products, leading-edge design, efficient manufacturing and exemplary service have created one of the most valued brands in the industry. We have many opportunities to improve results by leveraging best practices, operational expertise, product innovation and manufacturing assets."

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PRO Group gets a new owner

BY Ken Clark

Denver, Col.-based PRO Group, a hardware industry merchandising and marketing organization, announced an ownership change that makes president and CEO Steve Synnott the new owner.

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Synnott, a 20-year veteran of PRO Group, bought the privately held organization from Gary Cosgrave, the son of the group’s founders, for an undisclosed price. 

Paul and Hazel Cosgrave founded PRO Group in 1953. 

Gary Cosgrave, the company’s chairman of the board, will remain involved in PRO Group’s strategic planning and said nothing will change in the company’s operations or staff, according to a release announcing the change. 

“Steve Synnott has demonstrated his leadership capabilities and integrity," Cosgrave said. "I have confidence in Steve’s commitment to leverage the group’s marketing strength. The sale ensures perpetuation of the company my family started. I look forward to continuing my responsibility to support the success of independent retailers in today’s competitive market. We have an outstanding team in place to do that.” 

PRO Group remains dedicated to the success of independent retailers. Marketing, advertising and buying advantages will remain cornerstones of the company’s value to retail, wholesale and manufacturing channel partners. PRO Group’s members include 26 distributors.

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