Published in Economic Development

MiBiz Growth Report: Feb. 27, 2023

BY Sunday, February 26, 2023 06:00pm


  • Grand Rapids-based US Signal Co. LLC, a data center operator, I.T. solutions provider and fiber network owner, has completed a sale to Igneo Infrastructure Partners, an Australia-based  global investment manager. Telecom entrepreneur Rich Postma founded US Signal in 2001. The transaction included US Signal’s 9,500-mile fiber network and eight data centers. US Signal has operations in nine states in the Upper Midwest and employs 185 people. US Signal leverages its fiber network to provide network, data center, connectivity, cloud hosting, colocation, data protection and disaster recovery services to regional enterprise customers and large national telecommunications carriers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Advisers to US Signal included Stamford, Conn.-based investment banking firm Bank Street and the Grand Rapids office of the Dickinson Wright PLLC law firm. KeyBanc Capital Markets and Mayer Brown served as advisers to Igneo in the transaction.
  • Walker-based Speedrack Products Group Ltd., a maker of racking and storage systems for the retail and warehousing industries, transitioned to an employee stock ownership plan structure in a sale that closed at the end of 2022. As owner and CEO Ron Ducharme planned for the company’s succession to new ownership to retire, he opted to create an ESOP to maintain local ownership, culture, management and partnerships with customers and distributors, executives told MiBiz. Speedrack Products Group employs about 260 people at two facilities in Michigan and expects to reach about 300 employees as it ramps up to two shifts at the new corporate headquarters and plant in Walker. The company’s largest customer is e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. Speedrack was advised by Warner Norcross + Judd LLP. Local advisers to the ESOP included Wyoming-based Vision ESOP Valuation LLC.
  • Holland-based Performance Plus Quick Oil Change Centers Inc. has acquired Benton Harbor-based Sparkle Car Care Centers, according to a statement. The sale allows Sparkle’s owners, brothers Bill and Chad Stockwell, to pursue other business ventures, while their father, Carlos Stockwell, plans to retire. The acquisition adds a new market for Performance Plus, which operates about 50 retail locations in Michigan. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Performance Plus was advised on the deal by Grand Rapids-based Calder Capital LLC.
  • Madison Heights-based outdoor gear and clothing retailer Moosejaw, which operates 13 brick and mortar stores in six states, including in Belmont and Grand Rapids in West Michigan, is under new corporate ownership. Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) announced last week that it reached an agreement to acquire Moosejaw from Walmart, which acquired the company in 2017 for $51 million. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in March, were not disclosed. Moosejaw has 240 employees, and e-commerce is the primary driver of its sales.
  • Grand Rapids-based Dytech Auto Group Inc., doing business as GreatWater 360 Auto Care, has been quietly acquiring dozens of independent auto service companies across the Midwest. In December, the company acquired Bradley, Ill.-based Tire Tracks USA, a dealership with 14 stores and a warehouse in northern Illinois, Tire Business reported. GreatWater in recent years has now acquired nearly 90 independent auto service locations, and makes a point of retaining the businesses’ original identity. Since February 2021, GreatWater has grown to 96 locations in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, after starting with seven Dykstra Auto shops in the Grand Rapids market.
  • Expansion
  • Grand Rapids-based Oliver Healthcare Packaging Co. broke ground this month on a new 122,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Malaysia, according to a statement. The company, which makes a range of medical packaging, expects the plant to open in the first quarter of 2024 to supply its growing Asia-Pacific customer base. The facility will produce pouches, lids, CleanCut cards, and roll stock using the latest printing technology, according to the company. The company chose the strategic location to serve the “large concentration of pharmaceutical and medical device companies that currently operate in Singapore and Malaysia,” Oliver President and CEO Michael Benevento said in a statement. 



  • Discount home goods retailer Tuesday Morning plans to close more than half of its U.S. stores, including locations in Grand Rapids and Portage, after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month. On its website, Tuesday Morning listed the closures spanning 38 states, including three of its four Michigan locations at the Shops at CenterPoint mall in Grand Rapids, Southland Shopping Center in Portage and Troy Commons in Troy. The Dallas-based retailer expects to shutter most of the 264 locations targeted for closures in about eight weeks, per news reports.



  • Bringing on two more equity partners gives Charter Capital Partners a deeper leadership bench to share management responsibilities as part of a long-term succession plan. Mike Palm and Mark Streekstra became partners at the Grand Rapids-based investment banking and M&A firm on Feb. 1. They joined President and Managing Partner John Kerschen, Managing Director Mike Brown and Chief Operating Officer Debbie Kolar as partners at Charter Capital. In expanding the management team to five partners, Charter Capital took a “step in the process” in preparing for an eventual succession, although Kerschen is “not going anywhere any time soon,” he said.
  • Grand Rapids investment advisory firm Innovia Wealth rebranded from Strategies Wealth Advisors LLC. Formed in 2007, the firm maintains an office in Chicago and has $1.5 billion in clients assets under management. Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer Aaron Veldheer said in an announcement that the name change “reflects our commitment to innovation, joined with the word ‘via,’ which means the ‘way’ or ‘path.’”



  • Visitors traveling to Kalamazoo to participate in sporting events spent $28.7 million last year, as sports tourism locally returned to pre-pandemic levels. Discover Kalamazoo says the direct visitor spending and the resulting economic impact came from the more than 36,000 youth, amateur and professional athletes who competed in more than 60 sporting events during 2022. The biggest economic effects came from the Midwest & Pacific Coast Synchronized Sectional Championships that the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association hosted at Wings Event Center in late January. The event drew nearly 2,500 competitors, coaches and personnel that accounted for 2,800 room nights and nearly $3.7 million in direct economic effects. A national championship youth hockey tournament held at the Wings Event Center and Wings West in late March and early April attracted nearly 1,300 athletes, coaches, and event personnel, generating 3,100 hotel room nights and an estimated $2 million direct spending.
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