Better DredgesAcquires W&S Dredge Manufacturer

Lara Lightsey
Friday, May 19, 2006
Better Dredges, Inc., an affiliate of Dredging Supply Company, Inc., recently acquired W&S Dredge Manufacturer, a Michigan-based manufacturer, to expand its dredge product line.

Thomas Wetta founded Better Dredges, Inc. (BDI) in 2004 in order to allow Dredging Supply Company, Inc. to offer a mechanically driven dredge line to compliment its existing automated products. BDI was then created to offer a mechanically driven product without sacrificing DSC’s unmatched quality. DSC was not interested in creating a line that would compete with its existing automated products, but instead wanted to produce more options for the industry. Since its origination, BDI has been seeking an opportunity that would enable its growth in this extremely specific market.

Tom Stojsik, founder of W&S Dredge Manufacturer, had dealt with Thomas Wetta, founder of DSC and BDI, regularly over the years. The two founders had a long professional relationship and had grown to respect one another as they shared many common business values. Both DSC and W&S began as family-owned operations and have progressively grown by experimenting with new concepts. Both companies put their customer’s best interest first and strive to please them by providing highly engineered equipment that is proven throughout the industry.

When Stojsik recently decided to retire, he thought he would offer the company to DSC/BDI before putting it on the market. “I didn’t want to see my 38 years go to waste when I retired. I also felt an obligation to my employees and wanted to leave the company in the hands of experienced, trustworthy people that could maintain the quality W&S customers had learned to expect,” said Stojsik. Stojsik contacted DSC’s President, Bill Wetta, and informed him of his decision to retire. After discussing the idea with Bob Wetta, DSC’s VP, Bill traveled to Michigan to thoroughly checkout the facility and to see how this chance could further BDI’s original mission. The opportunity seemed to present itself to the right company. W&S produces a good product that supports BDI’s desire for growth.

After careful consideration, the owners of BDI decided to proceed with the business acquisition. BDI believed that by purchasing W&S they could better define their niche in the mechanical dredge market. “Bob and Billy have always manufactured larger dredges while W&S specialized in smaller equipment”, Stojsik stated. He continued, “I felt this was the perfect marriage.”

The new line will eventually incorporate DSC’s engineering expertise, but in a product that does not have all the technological advancements. This line will not offer GPS tracking, automation or telemetry packages as standard features, but will still perform at the level the dredges are known.

In the past, W&S has typically sold 4-6 units per year. Since the company’s acquisition, BDI hopes to increase those numbers to 6-10 units per year. Currently W&S has two units, an 8-Inch and 10-Inch model, under construction and BDI feels it will not be long before a customer scoops them up.

By acquiring the already established company, DSC and BDI believe that they can now address the entire market by offering a complete product line of automated and mechanically driven dredging equipment. “It really levels the playing field and gives all customers a chance to purchase a well rounded, proven product”. “There is a real market out there for this type of equipment, particularly in Asia, South America, and Central America where automation is not a typical request”, said Bob Wetta and “We hope this endeavor will aid us to continue our international expansion”.

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