Two large tanning groups in the U.S. state of Maine, the Irving Tanning Corporation and Prime Tanning, have agreed to merge to forming a vertically integrated tanning operation with annual revenues of more than $225 million. Their leather finishing plants in Maine have an annual capacity of around 30 million square feet each. In addition Prime Tanning operates a wet blue facility with a capacity of 125 million square feet in Missouri, making it already the largest vertically integrated leather manufacturer in the USA.

Most of the current clients are footwear and accessory brands including Timberland, Wolverine, HH Brown, Rocky Brands and Cole Haan, but the overlap is minimal. The merger is expected to result in R&D synergies and better service through greater flexibility and responsiveness.

After the merger, the company will operate under the name of Prime Tanning Company. It will be led by Bob Moore, current chief executive of Prime, who will act as president and CEO. Dick Larochelle, current chief executive of Irving, will become the group’s executive vice president of international.

Established in 1925, Irving employs about 115 people at its offices and facilities in Hartland, Maine and finishes leather in India through a joint venture with Bhartiya International. It went through a management buyout supported by Mariturn Partners in 2005.

Headquartered in Berwick, Maine, Prime Tanning currently employs some 450 people in Maine and Missouri. The company was founded by Morris Kaplan in 1914. His son, Leonard D. Kaplan, acted as its chairman for 49 years. Leonard’s sons Mike and Steve Kaplan will act as co-chairmen of the new merged operation.