Maryland investors purchase AmTote Company makes racing equipment


February 27, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

AmTote International Inc. was acquired yesterday by a small group of local investors who say the sale ensures that the Hunt Valley-based supplier of electronic equipment for the horse racing industry will remain in Maryland.

AmTote, founded in 1932, had been owned by GTECH Holdings Corp. of West Greenwich, R.I., since 1993. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The new owners are Ted Mudge, the managing director of the Pinaco Group, a Baltimore-based insurance brokerage and an active member of the thoroughbred racing industry; and John and James Corckran, owners of Clendenin Brothers Inc., an East Baltimore manufacturer of nails, rivets, nuts, bolts and other fasteners that was founded in 1865.

John Corckran said that the only connection between Clendenin and AmTote is that he and his brother are part owners of the racing equipment company.

Mr. Mudge said he has been closely involved in the horse industry most of his life. "I grew up on a horse farm and I have been an owner of race horses since 1988," he said. "I have been very active in the industry. I know a lot of the breeders. The general managers and I have a good knowledge of how race tracks operate."

Mr. Mudge is the new president of AmTote and he's making it a full-time job. "I have resigned from the insurance brokerage firm and I will be here [at AmTote] 100 percent of the time as president."

John and James Corckran will share the title of chief executive.

The acquisition resulted in a complete turnover of the top management at AmTote. William Sanders, who has served as interim president the past ten months; Douglas Ramsey, vice president; and Joseph Freeman, personnel director, will stay with GTECH.

Steve Hill, head of manufacturing, left to take a job with another company.

Mr. Mudge said no changes in the work force or layoffs are anticipated as a result of the acquisition. AmTote has 450 workers, including 200 at its plant in Hunt Valley. It also has operations in Australia and Canada.

"We want to keep the jobs in Maryland," said Mr. Mudge, noting that the partners competed against out-of-state companies to acquire AmTote. He said the company is meeting with Baltimore County and state economic development officials regarding help with financing the purchase as well as future growth.

Robert Hannon, executive director of the Baltimore County Economic Development Office, said the negotiations are centered around possible loan guarantees in which the state and the county would be responsible for repayment of a loan if the company could not make payment.

Noting that AmTote serves race tracks all over the country, Mr. Hannon said there is no reason the company has to remain in Maryland. He said the state and county's involvement was to "retain the business and keep the jobs in Maryland." He described the owners of Clendenin Brothers "as solid business people with a proven track record."

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