Published in Finance

PE firm Blackford Capital raising $75M to grow portfolio companies

BY Wednesday, February 08, 2023 06:03pm

Grand Rapids private equity firm Blackford Capital seeks to raise $75 million to support growth at existing portfolio companies.

Blackford Capital in late 2022 closed on the first $34.8 million for the fund that was raised from 25 investors, according to a filing to federal securities regulators.


The fund will provide growth capital to Aqua-Leisure Recreation LLC, a maker of leisure products for water sports and recreation based in Avon, Mass.; Mopec Inc., a maker of pathology and mortuary equipment based in the Detroit area; and Starfire Direct, a Temecula, Calif.-based maker of fireplaces, gas fire pits and high-end custom products for residential and commercial uses.

The new investment fund will finance the growth for each company, said Blackford Capital founder and Managing Director Martin Stein. Fundraising toward the $75 million goal started in early 2022 and will continue for another year, he said.

All three companies “have done extremely well,” Stein said.

Stein expects annual revenues for Aqua-Leisure, which Blackford Capital acquired in early 2021, to grow from $60 million to $330 million to $350 million by the end of 2023. Aqua-Leisure last spring then acquired Longwood, Fla.-based INYO Pool Products LLC, a brand of swimming pool supply, repair and maintenance products, in a deal that followed the acquisition of Denver, Colo.-based Airhead Sports Group four months earlier.

Aqua-Leisure’s acquisition of Airhead Sports Group — a maker of outdoor, marine, watersports and winter leisure products — was recently named the winner of an annual USA Deal of the Year Award in the small markets category in Global M&A Network’s annual Americas M&A Atlas Awards.

Blackford Capital presently operates seven portfolio companies with more than $550 million in annual revenues and 2,000 employees, was also named Private Equity Firm of the Year – Small Mid-Market category at the M&A Atlas Awards.

“This recognition reflects the depth and talent of our transactional practices and our team’s track record closing strategically significant deals for our clients,” Stein said.

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