Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for Sept. 6, 2016:
• M&A: Lansing-based Eckhart Inc., a portfolio company of private equity firm LFM Capital of Nashville, Tenn., acquired Auto Craft Tool & Die Inc. and 3 D Sales Inc., both of Algonac, Mich., in a deal to add more controls, robotics, and automation-based solutions and distribution capabilities. Auto Craft operates facilities in Marine City, where it makes material handling systems and specialized tooling for industrial manufacturers. The company manufactures door and instrument panel carriers and automatic guided carts. The related 3 D Sales business distributes industrial ergonomic and work cell components. The deal, the terms for which were not disclosed, was the first for Eckhart, a manufacturer of ergonomic assembly line equipment that last year joined the LFM Capital portfolio. The Nashville-based private equity firm focuses on lower middle-market manufacturers and industrial services providers with enterprise values in the $15 million to $75 million range.
• M&A: Zelenka Farms has emerged from bankruptcy under new ownership and a new name. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-July, the Irving, Texas-based company with major operations in Grand Haven sold the majority of its assets in a $15 million bankruptcy auction to Gardens Alive Inc., a Lawrenceburg, Ind.- based nursery and garden products retailer. Zelenka Farms, a producer and distributor of container-grown shrubs, trees and other plants, was previously owned by Insight Equity, a Southlake, Texas-based private equity firm. Going forward, Zelenka will be rebranded as Gardens Alive as a “fresh start” for the company, CEO Eric Ek said in an interview with MiBiz. The company expects to retain the majority of Zelenka’s 1,600 employees, including roughly 300 employees that work at its Grand Haven farm, he added.
• M&A: Via its national office furniture industry practice, Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners led the transaction advisory team for Louisville, Ky.- based KFI Seating in a deal with Weller Equity Partners, also of Louisville. In the deal, two of KFI’s owners looked for an equity partner to buy out a third owner who was looking to retire, as well as give the firm resources to grow, said Andrew Williams, a director at Charter Capital. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The three co-owners were “able to achieve their financial and personal goals,” he said. Two partners remained with the company after the deal.
• Investment: TMG WH LLC of Grand Rapids made a $750,000 investment in a Philadelphia-based company that writes management data software. The investment capital came from seven investors, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Michael McNinch, a private investor and managing director at Grand Rapids-based TMG Capital, which invests in growth-stage companies around the U.S., said the investment went to WizeHive Inc. in Philadelphia. TMG Capital set up the LLC specifically for the investment.
• Expansion: Farmington Hills-based Level One Bank plans to enter the Grand Rapids market, moving out of its home turf in the metro Detroit area for the first time. Level One will open a branch in early December in a former PNC Bank office on Burton Street on Grand Rapids’ southeast side. The bank is presently seeking to hire up to 13 people to staff the location. Level One Bank has 10 offices in metro Detroit with $1.04 billion in assets as of June 30.
• Expansion: Pfizer Inc. received a $14.5 million tax abatement from the city of Portage to support a proposed $146 million expansion to two facilities at its manufacturing campus. Pfizer will invest approximately $105.5 million in the Act-O-Vial Work Center, which will house new freeze dryers and other automated equipment. The company will invest another $41 million in its 98,000-square-foot North Warehouse facility, which it will use to store raw materials. In total, only 15 jobs will be created from the expansion since most of the investment will be in automated equipment and refrigeration. Pfizer employs 2,100 workers at its Portage facility with an annual payroll of more than $200 million.
• Expansion: Koops Inc., a manufacturer of custom automation equipment, plans to invest $4.9 million into a new 40,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its headquarters in Holland. The expansion includes plans to add 60 new jobs and additional machinery, according to a statement from Lakeshore Advantage. Koops, which provides automation equipment to the automotive, aerospace, medical and other industries, received a $360,000 performance-based grant from the state and other incentives to support the expansion.
• Expansion: Chicago-based Athletico opened a new location on East Beltline Avenue at Knapp’s Corner in Grand Rapids. Athletico provides physical therapy, injury screenings, and treats worker’s compensation injuries. The company has more than 350 locations in nine states, 21 of them in Michigan, including a location on Cascade.
• Expansion: Automotive supplier Spectrum Industries Inc. will expand into a recently-sold industrial building on the south side of Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids-based supplier of coatings for automotive components will take half of the more than 95,000-square-foot industrial building located at 5265 Kellogg Woods Dr. SE, near the intersection of Division Avenue and 52nd Street, according to a statement. The building was acquired by an unnamed investor on Aug. 12. Executives from the Grand Rapids office of commercial brokerage Colliers International Group Inc. represented both parties in the deal.