April 13, 2022
Blackford Capital (“Blackford”) today announced the sale of its portfolio company Hall Technologies, (“Hall”) to investment partner Gun Lake Investments, (“GLI”) a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based economic development corporation. Blackford is a private equity firm that acquires and builds founder and family-owned companies in the lower middle market with a focus on manufacturing, industrial and distribution companies.
April 6, 2022
November 29, 2021 | PR Newswire
Blackford Capital today announced “What the H*ll is Going on with the Global Supply Chain? And Will it EVER Return to Normal?”, a webinar and panel discussion hosted by the Association for Corporate Growth Western Michigan Chapter. The virtual event, which will take place on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, from 9-10 a.m. EDT, is free and open to the public. Registration is currently open on the ACG West Michigan website at https://www.acg.org/wmich/events.
Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital, will moderate the discussion. The expert panel will feature internationally recognized experts in analyzing the issues that led to the current supply chain crisis, exploring who is benefitting from the global situation, and predicting what the next few months might look like. Panelists for the event are:
Steve Feniger – Operating Partner, Blackford Capital and a 35-year veteran of the international sourcing, manufacturing and retailing industries. Steve will share insights on the role Asian sourcing has played in the current crisis and how companies can address that end of their supply chain.
Benjamin Gordon – Managing Partner for Cambridge Capital, published author and one of the most quoted supply chain experts in the industry. Ben will provide in-depth analysis of supply chain logistics and explore what might be next.
Dennis Hawver – Director of Engineering and Business Development at EBW Electronics (EBWE), and 30-year veteran of the Tier 1 global automotive industry. Dennis will speak to the real-time effects he is seeing in the automotive industry and will also touch on how a ‘design for availability’ approach can minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions on manufacturing and production capabilities.
November 23, 2021 | PR Newswire
GRAND RAPIDS — Blackford Capital, a national private equity firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., was named Private Equity Firm of the Year at the 20th Annual M&A Advisor Awards on Wednesday, November 17.
“Out of a field of 16 incredible firms nominated, we are honored to be recognized as Private Equity Firm of the Year by the M&A Advisor,” said Martin Stein, Blackford Capital’s founder and managing director. “2021 has been a tremendous year for Blackford – our team has completed more transactions than ever before and are operating 11 portfolio companies in three countries. This honor is an affirmation of our amazing team, who are completing more transactions per investment professional than just about any other PE firm in the country. To be recognized alongside such impressive firms as Gen Cap America, McNally Capital, Seidler Equity Partners, Wellspring Capital Management, and WestView Capital Partners is truly an honor. We’re looking forward to building on this momentum in the coming years.”
November 2, 2021 | MiBiz
GRAND RAPIDS — Private equity firm Blackford Capital has added to its holdings in the hospitality sector with the acquisition of ID Collaborative Inc., a Greensboro, N.C.-based interior design firm.
ID Collaborative provides procurement and design services for clients throughout the Southeastern U.S. in the senior living, health care, multifamily, corporate and hospitality sectors.
October 29, 2021 | Grand Rapids Business Journal
Martin Stein started Blackford Capital 11 years ago, and in that time, he said a disciplined approach to investing has propelled the company’s growth and credibility.
The Grand Rapids-based private equity (PE) firm, based at 190 Monroe Ave. NW in downtown Grand Rapids, acquires, manages and builds founder- and family-owned lower middle market manufacturing, industrial and distribution companies, helping them supercharge performance by improving operations and implementing aggressive growth plans. The firm currently has 11 portfolio companies and has had five exits in its history, with more expected to close this year, according to Stein, founder and managing director.
October 29, 2021 | Blackford Capital
Blackford Capital, a national private equity firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, today announced that it has been named a finalist in the Private Equity Firm of the Year category by The M&A Advisor. Blackford was also named a finalist in three separate Deal of the Year categories. The company’s acquisition of Aqua Leisure was named a finalist in the Consumer Discretionary Deal of the Year (Under $100MM) and Private Equity Deal of the Year ($50MM to $75MM) categories, while Blackford’s sale of Ellison Bakery was recognized in the Consumer Staples Deal of the Year category.
“We are thrilled to be selected as a finalist for Private Equity Firm of the Year by The M&A Advisor, and to have two of our transactions recognized as well. It is always an honor to be recognized for our work by one of the most credible publications in our industry,” said Martin Stein, Blackford Capital’s founder and managing director. “We have an outstanding team that has been working diligently to surpass our goals for this year and are excited to see continued growth for both Blackford and our portfolio companies.”
August 11, 2021 | PRNewswire
Aqua Leisure, a company that designs, distributes and develops products for swimming and recreational water activities, announced today that Peter Delahunt has been appointed chief financial officer, effective immediately. Delahunt brings strong financial, strategic, and operational capabilities to Aqua Leisure, and over 20 years of executive experience at companies with both private equity and publicly traded ownership structures.
“Peter stood out to the Aqua Leisure team as a highly talented and experienced consumer-products executive with considerable private equity knowledge,” said Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital and Chairman of the Aqua Leisure board. “He is the perfect person to guide the team as we enter the next chapter of our ownership, developing the infrastructure to position the business for the future.”
July 26, 2021 | PRNewswire
Boston Trade Interior Solutions, one of the nation’s leading providers of interior design, procurement, and project management services for hospitality providers, and its partner Blackford Capital, has successfully acquired the assets of Design Environments Corporation, a top interior design and interior architecture firm serving single and multi-family developments, collegiate housing and continuing care retirement communities (CCRC). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The transaction aligns two industry leaders into a single-source, national entity providing interior design, interior architecture, procurement, project management and installation services to a wider array of residential, overnight, and short-term rental owners and developers.
July 7, 2021 | PRNewswire
Blackford Capital, announces the addition of Steve Feniger as Operating Partner. Feniger brings more than 30 years of international buying and sourcing experience and will support initiatives at several of Blackford’s portfolio companies. He has been based in Hong Kong and Shanghai for the last 23 years, working with brands and retailers to optimize their buying and sourcing operations in Asia.
“We are excited to welcome Steve to the Blackford Capital team,” said Martin Stein, Founder and Managing Director of Blackford Capital. “He’s a respected expert in buying and sourcing and will make an immediate impact across our portfolio, helping to advance operations and take our companies to the next level. His knowledge of the space and his passion for social compliance and corporate governance make him a perfect fit for our team.”
June 30, 2021 | PRNewswire
Online Tech Stores (OTS), a distributor of aftermarket imaging supplies, including laser printer toner cartridges, ink cartridges, toner, copier toner, ribbon and thermal fax consumables, today announced the appointment of e-commerce veteran Tony Bazan as chief executive officer. Bazan succeeds Dave Mathews, who has left the company for personal reasons.
Founded in 2009 and representing over 100 years of combined management industry experience, Reno, Nevada-based OTS is the largest importer of toner products in the United States.
April 25, 2021 | MiBiz
The COVID-19 pandemic that’s battered the hospitality industry generates an opportunity for Grand Rapids private equity firm Blackford Capital to grow a recently merged portfolio company.
Focused on interior design, procurement and project management for the hotel industry, Illinois-based Boston Trade Interior Solutions looks to grow as hotel owners and operators use the down period to upgrade their properties and prepare for a post-pandemic rebound. Boston Trade Interior Solutions was created through the March merger between Vertically Integrated Products — which Blackford Capital acquired in 2017 — and Boston Trade International.
April 14, 2021 | Middle Market Growth
One year after the arrival of the COVID-19 virus, portfolio companies are no longer in survival mode. Many are struggling to keep up with the pace of recovery, while others are waiting for it to reach them.
For Blackford Capital, the pandemic began as it did for many manufacturing companies and investors across the country.
The firm’s founder and managing director, Martin Stein, says eight of Blackford’s 11 portfolio companies—mainly focused on manufacturing but with holdings in other industries, including hospitality—experienced a precipitous drop in demand and revenue last April.
March 18, 2021 | PR Newswire
The newly established nationwide entity, Boston Trade Interior Solutions, brings more than 80 years of experience to the North American market.
Boston Trade Interior Solutions will be jointly owned by Blackford Capital, and the management teams at VIP and BTI, including Pravin and Sudhir Patel, highly respected pioneers in fixtures, furnishings, and equipment (FF&E) for the hospitality industry. Leadership teams at both companies, including VIP CEO Greg Kadens and COO Charles Tichelbaut and Jill Kowalski, Vice President of Project Services, will continue to lead the merged company, which will maintain its staff and operations and will have design showrooms in the Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco areas.
January 13, 2021 | GlobeNewswire
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Blackford Capital, a private equity firm based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, today announced an investment in Aqua-Leisure Industries, a leader and pioneer in water sport leisure product development and aquatic goods.
December 3, 2020 | GlobeNewswire
Mortuary Bags Market Research Report by Material Type (Biodegradable, LLDP, Non-Woven Fabric, Nylon, and PEVA), by Size (Adult Bags, Child/Infant Bags, and Heavy Duty and Bariatric Bags), by End Use – Global Forecast to 2025 – Cumulative Impact of COVID-19
December 3, 2020 | Northern Nevada Business Weekly
Sarah Melton has joined Reno-based SuppliesOutlet.com as the company’s new Vice President of Ecommerce.
Melton has enjoyed a successful 13-year career in the ecommerce industry and is excited to join one of the biggest names in ink and toner suppliers, according to a Nov. 13 press release.
August 17, 2020 | PR Newswire
Blackford Capital today announced it has successfully closed on the sale of Fort Wayne, Indiana-based portfolio company Ellison Bakery to Tilia Holdings, a Chicago-based private investment firm focused on the food supply chain. Ellison Bakery is a leading manufacturer of cookie, snack bar, crunch and inclusion products for the industrial market, food service industry, and retail and private label space. The Ellis family, Promus Equity Partners, Concentric Equity Partners, and Baird Principal Group partnered in the deal, with senior debt funding provided by Comerica.
June 30, 2020 | Yahoo! Finance
Mopec, a leading provider of American-made medical equipment and laboratory products to the pathology, morgue, anatomy and necropsy industries, is now offering its new Guardian Rack System. Designed and engineered to meet the needs of morgues during mass fatality events and surges, the system can be quickly assembled and deployed to provide additional remains storage capacity.
May 18, 2020 | PR Newswire
Online Tech Stores (OTS), a leading distributor of aftermarket imaging supplies based in Reno, Nevada, today announced the appointment of Dave Mathews as Chief Executive Officer. Mathews will oversee all aspects of OTS’s two business units, SuppliesOutlet.com and SuppliesWholesalers.com
May 14, 2020 | Roll Call
Mopec’s board member, Dr. Joyce deJong, forensic pathologist, talks about the body bag shortage and what Mopec is doing to help during this global pandemic.
April 12, 2020 | MiBiz
The COVID-19 pandemic that dismantled daily routines and hammered the economy has forced investors to pivot along with the companies they back financially.
Venture capital and private equity investors contacted by MiBiz say they’ve advised portfolio companies to stay safe, preserve cash, control expenses and capital spending, secure revenues, assess the effects, and continually revise projections based on the data they see.
April 9, 2020 | Middle Market Growth
See Blackford’s Founder and Managing Director, Martin Stein, comment on the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. As the federal government looks to help support small businesses through the COVID-19 health and financial crisis, there are some limitations to the current legislation. In a survey of over 1000 ACG members, 92% said the PE exclusion from the PPP would result in significant layoffs at portfolio companies. Mr. Stein provides a unique perspective from the vantage point of a private equity firm and assesses the impact of the bill on private equity owned businesses. #acg #smallbusinessgrowth #sba #blackfordcapital #COVID-19crisis
December 26, 2019 | Cision PR Newswire
Blackford Capital is excited to announce our latest acquisition in the imaging supplies space: Cartridge World. We have received a lot of positive press and supportive commentary from the industry analysts. We are excited to partner with Mark Pinner and his team and work to grow the business. Cartridge World has one of the best brand names in the industry!
July 31, 2019 | Cision PR Newswire
Davalor Mold (or “Davalor”), a leading manufacturer of injection molded plastic products is excited to announce two new additions to the company’s Board of Directors. Blackford Capital acquired Davalor Mold in 2016 and has since built upon the company’s reputation for custom manufacturing capabilities and exceptional customer service.
April 30, 2019 | Cision PR Newswire
Blackford Capital, a national private equity firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., today announced its exit from its ownership of Grand Rapids, Mich. based Custom Profile. Founded in 1992, Custom Profile is a leading manufacturer of premium plastic extruded parts servicing the office furniture, appliance, and medical device industries.
December 4, 2018 | PE Hub Network
Davalor Mold Corporation, a portfolio company of Blackford Capital, has named James Puscas as its new CEO. Previously, Puscas held leadership positions at Stanley Black & Decker, Cadence Innovation, ASC Inc and General Electric Plastics. Davalor is a maker of injection molded plastic products.
November 27, 2018 | Corp! Magazine
Blackford Capital, a national private equity firm based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is proud to share that it has been named Private Equity Firm of the Year by The M&A Advisor at the 17th Annual M&A Advisor Awards on Tuesday, November 6. Founded in 1998, The M&A Advisor is the preeminent organization for M&A, turnaround, and finance professionals and has been honoring the leading M&A transactions, companies, and dealmakers since 2002.
November 26, 2018 | MiBiz
A new office in suburban Detroit gives Blackford Capital a market presence to scout for deals in the heart of the auto industry and center for American manufacturing. The Royal Oak office, which will provide the private equity firm with greater ability to recruit talent as it grows, was “the right next step” for the Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital, according to founder and Managing Director Martin Stein.
November 7, 2018 | equities.com
Ellison Bakery (or “Ellison”), a portfolio company of Blackford Capital and a leading manufacturer of cookie and snack products for the industrial market, food service, and retail private label space, is proud to have welcomed Stephanie Chattillion as the new Chief Executive Officer.
October 2, 2018 | PRWeb
Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that its client, Blackford Capital, is a finalist for the 17th Annual M&A Advisor Awards.
The finalists have been selected from the nominees in the first stage of evaluation and an independent panel of judges will select the ultimate award winners that will be announced at the Awards Gala on Tuesday, November 6th at the New York Athletic Club. For more information, please visit http://www.maadvisor.com.
September 21, 2018 | Grand Rapids Business Journal
A local private equity firm has acquired a majority stake in an out-of-state maker of audiovisual hardware and software.
Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital said this week it acquired the stake in Tustin, California-based Hall Research. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Hall is Blackford’s sixth investment within its National Growth Practice and 13th portfolio company.
September 19, 2018 | DBusiness
Blackford Capital, a national private equity firm based in Grand Rapids, Tuesday announced it has invested in Tustin, Calif.’s Hall Research, a designer, engineer, and manufacturer of audiovisual hardware and software systems that better communicate between audiovisual sources and displays.
Blackford completed the transaction with financing from Gun Lake Investments and Comerica Bank in Detroit.
February 20, 2018 | Printing Impressions
Kingsport Book LLC is excited to announce the launch of its newly built Kingsport Book Commercial. Kingsport Book Commercial was built with the goal of being able to offer the most competitive, short-run four-color book and commercial printing solution available in the industry. Phase 1 of this multi-million expansion continues to build on the goals established by PCC (Printer Consolidation Co.), a Blackford Capital portfolio company to build a world-class company focused on the ever-changing needs of the book printing industry.
February 13, 2018 | Mergers & Acquisitions
Blackford Capital has invested in Online Tech Stores, an aftermarket distributor of print and imaging supplies. OTS chief executive officer Bob Willmes says, “While we’ve seen significant growth in the past several years, we believe this partnership will enable OTS to add products and capabilities to continue to best meet the needs of our growing customer base.”
Martin Stein | March 20, 2019 | equities.com
In business, there’s an adage that it takes money to make money. That sounds simple enough, but real business is far more nuanced than that. Businesses have three options regarding how to treat their money: buy, hold, or sell.
Martin Stein | March 6, 2019 | ReadWrite
As anyone working in the industry knows, manufacturing is going through a period of significant upheaval. Outsourcing and automation threaten current manufacturing processes, and as plants continue to close in places like Michigan and Ohio, many people on the frontlines are worried about their futures.
Martin Stein | March 5, 2019 | Seeking Alpha
Backed by investor confidence relative to public markets, private equity assets have been gaining on hedge funds over the past decade and are projected to overtake them with a $2 trillion growth surge during the next five years. Firms hoping to hop aboard the private equity hypergrowth train need several factors pointing in their favor, starting with a willing leadership committed to properly executing all of the right moves.
Martin Stein | February 1, 2019 | Innovation Enterprise
Innovation is critical to the continued success of a company, yet it can be difficult for businesses to avoid slipping back into stagnancy despite the best intentions. Delivering the same performance levels, failing to create substantial value and rehashing what one has accomplished before is all too common for many teams.
When that occurs, opportunities for growth and strengthening a brand can be missed. It is vitally important to understand just how innovation happens – and how to generate more of it.
Martin Stein | January 2, 2019 | GlobalTrade
Keeping a promise that he made during the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump continues to pick trade fights around the globe by imposing billions of dollars in tariffs on particular imports from Europe, Canada, Mexico and China. Trump says the tariffs intend to encourage investment and drive purchasing back to domestic suppliers, noting that necessities such as food and clothing—along with certain smartphones—have been exempted to spare consumers.
Martin Stein | December 5, 2018 | equities.com
A lot of the most exciting things in life aren’t accessible to everyone. But sometimes, like private equity, it’s the best option if you can swing it. PE also has its downsides, so you should be fully aware of the pros and the cons as you decide whether to jump into the fray.
Martin Stein | November 30, 2018 | manufacturing.net
Not long ago, most business experts considered manufacturing growth in America to be a lost cause. While it’s true that the U.S. doesn’t dominate globally as it did in the decades after World War II, there’s no denying the rejuvenation taking place in manufacturing jobs.
Martin Stein | October 31, 2018 | equities.com
One of the best ways to be an informed investor in private equities is to understand how PE firms pursue their opportunities and encourage value in the companies they invest in.
It’s important to grasp the main divisions of all investment opportunities. They break into two main camps: public equities and bonds/debt offerings on the one hand, and “alternative investments” on the other. These alternative investments include real estate, hedge funds, venture capital and PE.
Martin Stein | October 26, 2018 | YouTern
To most young adults navigating their college years, the word “internship” can be a source of both cautious excitement and unrestrained dread. A necessary evil, perhaps. The certainly don’t think about how to become a dream intern.
Martin Stein | October 26, 2018 | equities.com
In the private equity world, buzz terms like “strip and flip” or “burn and churn” are used to describe horror stories of cutthroat investment strategies in which private equity firms give little thought to their obligations to multiple stakeholder groups in order to drive quick (and presumably thoughtless) returns.
Martin Stein | July 3, 2018 | CEOWORLD MAGAZINE
As leaders of organizations, founders and CEOs get a large share of the credit and the blame for business developments, both good and bad. But the decisions to influence and inspire a company’s vision, values, culture, and direction should not be made in a vacuum. While CEOs certainly play a part in setting the stage for a company’s long-term success, a meaningful factor is at play that boils down to one word: governance.
Martin Stein | May 16, 2018 | Innovation Enterprise
There’s one important step a company must take to grow faster in today’s marketplace: overcoming the common hurdles of corporate stagnancy. Leaders in some organizations don’t make the time to pursue growth. Other management teams want to grow but can’t because optimizing the current business model and facilitating growth require different skill sets.
Martin Stein | March 22, 2018 | equities.com
Deal sourcing can be arduous, and many private equity firms can spend a lot of time on the wrong deal that, for one reason or another, is never executed. But the most effective private equity firms efficiently reject the wrong deals so they can spend more of their valuable time on good deals. It’s critical to find the “deal killers” — such as undisclosed liabilities, declining revenue, toxic business cultures, etc. — early on so that you can resolve them before spending valuable resources and save immeasurable frustration for both the buyer and seller. Ultimately, the typical problem associated with deal sourcing is a case of missing the forest for the trees. The PE firm might like the management team, the business model, or the industry, but it often fails to see the factors that may prevent the deal from closing.
Jeff Johnson | January 29, 2018 | Entrepreneur
With the passage of President Donald Trump’s tax plan, family-business entrepreneurs seem to be getting a big bump in social investment and corporate growth. Given that 80 to 90 percent of U.S. businesses are family-owned and that such companies contribute 64 percent of the GDP, according to Kennesaw State University research, the administration has taken a hardline stance in highlighting those businesses’ economic and cultural value.
Blackford portfolio companies, Ellison Bakery, Custom Profile, Quality Aluminum Products, and Grand Power Systems were recognized on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies.
As we begin 2022, this is the perfect time to look back and reflect on all we achieved in what was, by any measure, a challenging year. Despite these challenges, Blackford Capital had one of our best years…
With a diverse and complicated array of challenges weighing down the global supply chain, now, more than ever, it is time to see sourcing as a strategic weapon.
In private equity, due diligence is one of the most critical elements of the transaction process because it helps buyers to understand a business from top to bottom and evaluate whether to move forward with a merger, acquisition or exit.
Steve Feniger discusses the global impact of supply chain challenges in the past 18 months and why it is important. This disruption has been particularly challenging for companies who source their products from countries in Asia.