Centrisys founder reacquires full ownership of Kenosha-based manufacturing company

One of Kenosha’s largest manufacturers has successfully completed the process of re-acquiring complete ownership of its business from a foreign company.

Centrisys manufactures custom high-speed dewatering centrifuges, sludge thickeners and provides a global centrifuge repair service. It formally split from Chinese-based Techcent this winter.

Centrisys and Techcent formed a joint venture in 2007 which gave the manufacturer access to new markets in Asia and cost-cutting options. In 2015, Techcent purchased 80% of Centrisys, with founder Michael Kopper continuing to serve as president and CEO.

“It helped us to get less expensive raw materials from China,” Kopper said. “We could participate in the market for the low cost. We are Centrysis. We build the best equipment, but if you build the best equipment (capital expenditure) costs are high. … It was actually a good thing for us. We opened ourselves up to a bigger market. We could reduce our (capital expenditure) for manufacturing here.”

However, a few years after the acquisition, Techcent ran into financial trouble, Kopper said. The uncertainty associated with the financially distressed foreign parent company threatened Centrisys’ success.

“The problem came only after they got crazy financially,” he said. “They wanted to get bigger, they wanted to buy a lot of companies and they didn’t have the financial backing. … That is not sustainable.”

Although Techcent left their “operation completely alone” and “worked very well together,” Kopper wanted to be independent again.

“We wanted to cash in our 20% (stake) and there was an option in the sales agreement and they didn’t have the money,” he said.

Kopper turned to a Milwaukee-based law firm and a Milwaukee-based investment firm to develop and implement a strategy to reacquire 100% of Centrisys. The transaction closed in December 2021.

“We had a public auction and in the public auction I basically bought out of the money they owed us and got the company back,” he said. “It’s a good thing for all of us. Financially they failed, their management failed, but we always had good years. We succeeded. … (Centrysis) is financially so much stronger.”

Kopper said they now “are in the process of discussing how we can work together after the divorce.”

“We stayed friends,” he said. “Through this whole system we distributed a lot of machines into the Chinese market. We have a good reputation there. They said ‘We will straighten our stuff out in China.’”

Read more at the Kenosha News.

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