NN, Inc. traces its roots back to 1980 when founder, Dick Ennen, after running the ball business for a local competitor, opened his own ball and roller company. Over the years, this company which he named NN Ball & Roller grew from a single plant in the small town of Erwin, Tennesee, to a $700 million global manufacturer.
While the company started out making balls and rollers for the oil and gas industry, the recession in 1980 drove the company into new markets that needed chrome balls and rollers. While 1981-1986 were lean, hard years for virtually every manufacturer in the U.S., it set the stage for tremendous growth when the economy finally turned around in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
The need for additional capital to fund further growth led the company to go public as NN, Inc. in 1994. It has been a NASDAQ company (symbol: NNBR) ever since. In 1997, following Ennen’s retirement, Rock Baty was appointed CEO.
In 1999, the company began a string of strategic acquisitions by acquiring Industrial Molding in Lubbock, Texas. Industrial Molding broadened NN’s product offering by enabling the company to offer customers a full line of plastic bearing retainers to supplement its existing bearing components product line.
That acquisition was followed by a joint venture and subsequent outright purchase of NN Euroball in 2000, giving the company an established facility in Pinerolo, Italy.
In 2003, the company acquired SKF’s bearing components plant in Veenendaal, The Netherlands, adding tapered rollers and metal cages to NN’s product offering. Also in 2003, NN expanded the manufacturing footprint into Eastern Europe with the acquisition of a bearing components facility in Kysucke Nove Mesto, Slovakia, which NN completely retooled into a modern, world-class factory.
In 2004, NN opened its first plant to serve the growing markets in Asia with a greenfield factory in the Peoples Republic of China. The factory is located in Kunshan, a city about 90 kilometers from Shanghai. In 2005, NN completed its string of acquisitions in the bearing components sector with the purchase of certain assets from SNR.
During 2006, NN then took a leap by expanding its business into a new segment—the precision metal components industry—by acquiring Whirlaway Corporation in Wellington, Ohio. As the company continued to focus on manufacturing high-precision components, thus evolved the third product platform for NN.
In 2013, Rock Baty announced his retirement and was succeeded by Richard Holder. Holder joined the company with aggressive growth strategies and a strategic acquisition plan. By the end of 2014, NN completed four more acquisitions.
In January 2014, NN acquired V-S Industries, a precision metal components manufacturer with locations in Wheeling, Illinois, and Juarez, Mexico. In the following June, NN acquired tapered roller manufacturer RFK, located in Bosnia & Herzegovina. As a result, this acquisition made NN the largest independent manufacturer of tapered rollers in the world. In July, NN acquired the assets of Chelsea Grinding Company, a cylindrical roller manufacturer.
The final and most transformative acquisition of the year was completed in September 2014 when NN acquired Autocam, a precision metal components manufacturer with locations on four continents. This acquisition brought additional technologies, product capabilities and an established global footprint with a well-known brand name to the NN portfolio. The Autocam acquisition positioned NN as a top three player in the precision metal components industry.
In May 2015, NN acquired Caprock Manufacturing, a precision plastic components supplier located in Lubbock, TX. Serving multiple end markets including aerospace, medical and general industrial, this acquisition was the fifth completed by NN within fifteen months.
In October 2015, NN completed the acquisition of Precision Engineered Products (PEP), the company’s largest acquisition to date. As a global manufacturer of highly engineered, customized precision solutions, PEP serves the medical, electrical, transportation and aerospace end markets. The PEP acquisition expanded NN’s market segment reach, broadened its portfolio and further expanded the global footprint.
Through acquisitions and strategic growth plans, NN has grown from a once ball and roller manufacturer to a truly diversified industrial company with a global footprint.