Blackford Capital Named to Inc.’s 2023 List of Founder-Friendly Investors

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., October 31, 2023Blackford Capital, a leading lower middle market private equity firm, today announced it has been named to Inc.’s 2023 list of Founder-Friendly Investors.

Introduced in 2019, Inc.’s Founder-Friendly Investors list honors the private equity, venture capital, and debt firms with the best track records of success backing entrepreneurs. Selected as one of 218 firms recognized for remaining actively involved with the businesses they invest in, and just three based in Michigan; Blackford joins an impressive list of firms that have earned the trust of the entrepreneurs they support to help drive growth.

“We are honored to be recognized by Inc. Magazine for our founder-friendly practices and to be included in this year’s impressive collection of winners. Our commitment to building long-term partnerships with entrepreneurs that not only support their business goals but accelerate their growth is at the core of why we do what we do,” said Martin Stein, Blackford Capital’s founder and managing director. “Our inclusion on the 2023 Inc. Founder-Friendly list is a testament to the level of trust we have built with families and founders we’ve collaborated with and the reputation we’ve earned in the industry over the past 13 years.”

Since its inception, Blackford Capital has acquired, grown, and successfully exited founder- and family-owned lower middle market companies with revenues ranging from $15 million to $200 million. The firm has developed 18 platforms and completed approximately 35 add-ons and ten exits overall. Blackford focuses exclusively on majority controlled leveraged buyouts of industrial, consumer products, and value-added distribution companies.  Under the ownership and operation of Blackford Capital, these portfolio companies have grown to become industry leaders, thriving in each of their industries across 10 U.S. states, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, as well as Ireland, Germany and China, employing more than 2,000 individuals.

“Now more than ever, founder-led companies need financing partners that offer guidance, expertise, and understanding—not just capital. These are the private equity, venture capital, and debt firms that have founders’ backs when it comes to accelerating growth,” says Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief of Inc. Business Media.

To compile the list, Inc. went straight to the source: entrepreneurs who have sold to private equity and venture capital firms. Founders filled out a questionnaire about their experiences partnering with the nominated firms and shared data on how their portfolio companies have grown during these partnerships.

In addition to Inc.’s Founder-Friendly Investors award, Blackford Capital was named a 2023 Best of MichBusiness honoree, the 2023 M&A Dealmaker of the Year by ACG Detroit and was awarded the 2023 Small Markets Deal of the Year by both Buyouts Magazine and Global M&A Network Atlas Awards. Blackford was also selected as the Private Equity Firm of the Year by Global M&A Network Atlas Awards.  and the M&A Advisor also recognized Blackford as the Private Equity Firm of the Year in 2022, 2021 and 2018. Martin Stein has been selected as Dealmaker of the Year by M&A Advisor and by Crain’s ACG West Michigan. Many of its portfolio companies have also received industry leading awards and been included on the Inc. 5000. 

To see the complete list of 2023 Inc. Founder-Friendly award recipients, go to:

About Blackford Capital
Founded in 2010, Blackford Capital is a private equity investment firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Blackford acquires, manages, and builds founder and family-owned, lower middle-market companies, with a focus on the manufacturing, industrial and distribution industries. Blackford has a track record of exceptional returns, a disciplined and relentless approach to value creation, and a focus on operational excellence and a compelling culture. For more information, visit

About Inc.
The world’s most trusted business-media brand, Inc. offers entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools, connections, and community they need to build great companies. Its award-winning multiplatform content reaches more than 50 million people each month across a variety of channels including websites, newsletters, social media, podcasts, and print. Its prestigious Inc. 5000 list, produced every year since 1982, analyzes company data to recognize the fastest-growing privately held businesses in the United States. The global recognition that comes with inclusion in the 5000 gives the founders of the best businesses an opportunity to engage with an exclusive community of their peers, and the credibility that helps them drive sales and recruit talent. The associated Inc. 5000 Conference is part of a highly acclaimed portfolio of bespoke events produced by Inc. For more information, visit