AAI buys California company


AAI Corp. of Hunt Valley today announced the acquisition of a California-based hydraulics testing company, as part of AAI's strategy of reducing its reliance on federal contracts.

AAI purchased ACL Technologies Inc. of Santa Ana, effective yesterday, and will make it a wholly-owned subsidiary known as AAI/ACL Technologies. The new unit's headquarters will remain

in California, with a new president to be appointed by AAI.

"This is a significant opportunity for us," said Paul J. Michaud, vice president of finance for AAI.

ACL, whose annual revenues are about $20 million, is a leader in the design and manufacture of testing systems for hydraulic equipment. Much of its work is for the commercial aviation industry, in contrast to AAI's strength in electronic testing systems, often for the Defense Department, Mr. Michaud said.

With this acquisition and another one last June, AAI's dependence upon federal contracts should fall from 90 percent to less than 70 percent in a few years, he said.

ACL has 150 employees, all in California except for some field offices around the country. AAI employs 2,400 nationwide, about 1,600 of those in Maryland.

The acquisition should not affect employment in either area in the short run, although ACL could expand if the merger is successful in bringing in new business, he said.

ACL was founded in 1954 as Auto Controls Laboratories and was closely held by its founders. Mr. Michaud said the companies would provide no details of the transaction, other than to say AAI paid cash up front, assumed liabilities of ACL, and will make continuing payments to ACL's former owners based upon the profitability of the unit.

Mr. Michaud would not disclose ACL's financial results, except to say the company generates about $20 million a year in revenues, compared with about $200 million for AAI.

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