By  on March 4, 2005

NEW YORK — When Del Laboratories was bought by DLI Holding Corp. last year for $480 million, many in the industry thought they had seen the last of William McMenemy.

After all, he had been a major shareholder of the company — Del was publicly traded prior to the acquisition — and, he had put in nearly 40 years of service at the Uniondale, N.Y.-based firm, most recently as executive vice president of marketing.

More telling of a possible exit was his absence at major industry trade shows over the past year. Such no-shows generally get industry mouths moving and the acquisition just seemed to fuel the rumor machine.

Not a chance.

Last week McMenemy surfaced at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan, sans his trademark tan — a trait he explained diminished due to the past year’s organizing of the acquisition — and confirmed to WWD that his place at the company is firm. He’s also anxious to take on his new role as president and chief executive officer of the now privately held Del Labs, while injecting the position with his marketing expertise.

DLI Holding Corp. started out as a venture between affiliates of Kelso & Co., an investment firm, and Church & Dwight Co. Inc., the oral care company that markets a variety of products under the Arm & Hammer, Mentadent, Close-Up, Aim and Pepsodent brands. Church & Dwight is no longer involved. The acquisition was first announced in July and became official in January.

McMenemy said the deal allows Del to reposition itself in the marketplace, complete with resources to fund acquisitions, even into areas outside of mass beauty.

“Now there is greater access to financing. It’s not part of the plan right now, but there are definitely acquisitions in the company’s future,” likely in the salon side of the business, he added.

Recent proof of Del’s interest in dabbling outside the drugstore cosmetics wall is the May launch of the Elizabeth Arden nail polish line, a license Del acquired last year. The salon industry, where the line will be distributed, is new for Del, one that McMenemy believes is a “good idea” since the industry is ripe with acquisition candidates. Elizabeth Arden nail products will enter high-end salons, beginning with the Elizabeth Arden salons across the country, and will compete directly with industry leaders Essie and OPI.

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