Private investment firm Graham Partners has acquired a majority stake in Comar Inc., one of Atlantic County's largest manufacturing companies, and will provide capital and expertise to expand its business globally.

Buena-based Comar makes dispensing and packaging products for the health and personal care industries, employing 250 at its local plant and another 50 at facilities in Cayey, Puerto Rico.

Michael Ruggieri said he will remain president and CEO of Comar, and he and two relatives will continue to own stakes in the company: cousin Henry Tamagni III, who will remain its facilities and maintenance manager; and retired uncle Henry Tamagni Jr.

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Ruggieri said the "significant investment" by Graham Partners, amount undisclosed, will make it possible for Comar to continue to expand domestically while also pursuing a strategy to create a "global footprint."

"We believe we can carry our products in foreign markets," he said. "The short-term focus is in Europe, and we're looking to invest in the European market and add a manufacturing site there."

Comar has seen growing demand for two relatively new product lines - its AccuCup with measuring units printed on the outside, but especially its plastic oral syringes with printed measurements.

Ruggieri said the company spent $2 million expanding its capacity to manufacture measuring syringes, its biggest single investment.

"With Graham Partners at our side, we can continue growing our products such as our measuring syringes and develop our Puerto Rico facilities while we expand in Europe," he said. "And we think expanding our footprint in the U.S. is just as important as growth globally."

Graham Partners, based in Newtown Square, Pa., acquires and invests in middle-market consumer and industrial manufacturing-related companies. Then it uses its expertise and experience to improve business processes and chart new growth initiatives, it says.

Founded in 1988 and having formed its first private equity fund in 1999, Graham Partners says it has a staff of 25 investment professionals and 30 operating managers working with companies.

"Comar's 60-year track record of customer service excellence and advanced manufacturing capabilities, coupled with its leadership position in the oral syringe, printed dosage cup, and dropper markets, create strong opportunities for growth," Adam Piatkowski, managing principal at Graham Partners, said in a statement last week.

Comar joins Graham Partners' portfolio of 19 companies, including six in building products, three in industrial technology, three in packaging and food, two each in transportation and water management, and one each in energy and aerospace.

The companies are spread across the United States. The only other New Jersey company is TransAxle, a remanufacturer of transmissions and other units for commercial vehicles, based in Cinnaminson, Burlington County.

Ruggieri said Graham Partners' extensive history and expertise in the packaging industry makes it an ideal partner to help Comar grow.

The companies "share a common manufacturing and business culture," he said.

"Our style is we can provide a complex solution quickly, an entrepreneurial and nimble style," Ruggieri said. "Now we'll be able to do that in a global setting."

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