Fast-growing Fishers quality-control firm bought by Japanese companies

Stratosphere Quality LLC, a fast-growing company based in Fishers that helps manufacturers eliminate product defects, has been acquired by two Japanese companies for an undisclosed amount.

The buyers are Sojitz Corp., a $36 billion public conglomerate based in Tokyo, which will be the majority owner; and Green Tec Corp., a $150 million quality-control company based in Nagoya, Japan, which is buying an undisclosed minority share.

The deal, in the works for about a year, will give Stratosphere more resources to continue growing and is not expected to result in any layoffs, CEO Tom Gray said Wednesday. The company has about 2,300 employees in 22 states. That includes about 400 in Indiana, of which 110 work in Fishers.

“The intent is that this acquisition opens some new doors for both their operations and our operations,” Gray told IBJ in an interview. “We’re certainly looking forward to continuing the same pace of growth we’ve enjoyed.”

He declined to say which markets Stratosphere will enter next, or to provide growth targets.

The 8-year-old company will keep its name and will retain its headquarters and management team in Fishers. It is housed at 12024 Exit Five Parkway. Gray will continue to serve as CEO. Steve Cage, the company founder and chairman, will serve on an advisory board.

Stratosphere offers a wide range of services, such as inspecting products and plant processes, to customers in the automotive, medical device, home appliance and electronics industries. The company inspected 350 million parts last year, finding 15 million defects that were repaired or replaced.

Business has been growing at a blistering pace in recent years. Last year, revenues hit $122 million, up from $8 million in its first year in 2009. Stratosphere has been on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies for four consecutive years.

Just three months ago, the company announced it would add 250 workers and invest $3.7 million to expand its Fishers headquarters. Gray said those plans would not change as a result of the acquisition.

Many of Stratosphere’s employees work out of customers’ manufacturing plants, and are responsible for verifying that suppliers send the correct parts and for keeping production lines in motion.

Gray said the acquisition talks began nearly a year ago. He declined to say which side initiated the discussion.

“For Sojitz in particular, they were looking to establish a presence in the United States,” Gray said. “For Green Tec, I think their intent was to open additional doors to their existing customer base in the U.S."

He continued: “For us, our goal has always been to be the No. 1 global provider of quality assurance services, and so it made a natural fit to begin discussions with Sojitz and Green Tec.”

Sojitz operates across a wide variety of industries, from automotive and aerospace to chemicals and minerals. It was formed in 2004 from the union of Nissho Iwai and Nichimen Corp., two major Japanese companies. Today, it operates about 400 subsidiaries and affiliates.

Green Tec, established in 1996, provides quality support and technology consulting for manufacturers.

Officials from the Japanese firms could not be reached for comment.

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