michael blatz

The board of a Franklin-based manufacturer of copper, brass and aluminum parts used in a number of industries has appointed a former Lennox International and Carrier executive to be its new CEO.

Michael Blatz takes over at Virtus Industries from Steve Drew, who is leaving the company after about a year. Blatz also has been elected a director of Virtus, which runs six plants in the United States, Mexico and Canada. Until last year, he has been CEO of VIP Cinema Seating for nearly two years — the company’s directors and lenders shut it down in April — and of steel tube maker Bull Moose Industries, both of which are based in St. Louis. Before that, he was president of Lennox’s HVAC service division and its executive vice president of operations as well as leader of several Carrier business units.

“We are at a critical moment and we are thrilled to engage with Michael to successfully implement our strategy,” said David Lilley, chairman of Virtus Industries and CEO of metals-focused investment firm Drakewood Capital Management. “Michael has a track record as a transformative leader focused on business and enterprise growth and strategic diversification.”

Virtus has more than 1,000 customers and its tubes and other products are used in air conditioners, refrigerators, specialty vehicles and power equipment. The company is based on Franklin Road near Moores Lane, across from Gateway Village, and last October acquired Arzon Ltd., a makes of brass and aluminum thin-wall tubes west of Ontario. In addition to Drakewood, the company’s investors global alternative investment manager Ares Management and basic industries specialists Ospraie Management.

Those firms and Blatz see opportunity for Virtus to grow further as manufacturers re-examine — i.e., look to shorten — their supply chains in the wake of COVID-19’s disruptive arrival. At the time of the Arzon deal, Lilley suggested more acquisitions are ahead.

“Our current customers — and future customers — are just at the beginning of re-evaluating their supply chains and the widespread re-engineering of traditional industrial processes,” Blatz said. “Virtus is currently well positioned to benefit from both of these dynamics. Our intention is to be a strategic partner to our customers as they work to improve and de-risk their businesses.”

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