Blackford Capital closed on three acquisitions in 2017 through its two private equity finds and sold two companies in what founder and Managing Director Martin Stein said were “phenomenal exits.” Blackford Capital owns 11 companies, nine through the Michigan Prosperity Fund and two through its National Growth Practice. Stein expects the U.S. economy in 2018 to remain in “pretty good” shape, driving growth in Blackford’s portfolio companies. He doesn’t see any downturn ahead for at least another two years.
“I have to say that all indications look like things are going to continue to move upwards. We’re very optimistic and positive. We’re investing in our team and our staff. We have 11 portfolio companies and we have to be adding a few more here in the next two months. Last year (in 2016), we had 13 portfolio companies and seven of them were on the Inc. 5000, so that means they’re (among) the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. We see that continuing. We’re in the heart of the budget season right now, and we’re not projecting any of our companies to be down. In fact, for every one of those 11 companies, we’re expecting the 2018 numbers to be the highest for each of those companies that they have ever been. My thought is that it’s going to be a pretty good year next year. … We’re working to deleverage our companies and make sure that when we buy a new business — and we’re looking at one right now, not in Michigan but one that’s a highly cyclical business — that we create a capital structure that allows us to be flexible. We’re paying down debt, number one. And number two, we’re gaining a capital structure that has quite a bit of flexibility.”