Blackford Capital Awarded Two M&A Atlas Americas Honors

Blackford celebrates its position as a leading private equity firm for family-owned small-middle market businesses with recognition in Deal and Firm of the Year Awards categories

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., February 6, 2023 – Blackford Capital, a leading lower middle market private equity firm, was recognized by the Global M&A Network at the 14th Annual Americas M&A Atlas Awards on January 19, 2023, for its accomplishments in the following categories:

  • USA Private Equity Firm of the Year – Small Mid-Market
  • USA Deal of the Year – Small Markets for the acquisition of Airhead Sports Group by Aqua-Leisure Recreation, a Blackford Capital portfolio company

“We are extremely honored that our people, our deals, and our firm were all recognized at the recent M&A Atlas awards. What an exciting way to kick-off 2023 and celebrate one of the best year’s in our history,” said Martin Stein, Blackford Capital’s founder and managing director. “This recognition reflects the depth and talent of our transactional practices and our team’s track record closing strategically significant deals for our clients. I would like to thank everyone on the Blackford team for their hard work to make this achievement happen.”

Named Private Equity Firm of the Year – Small Mid-Market, Blackford Capital currently operates 7 portfolio companies that generate more than $550 million in annual revenues across 10 U.S. states, Germany and China, employing more than 2,000 employees.

Blackford Operating Partner Jeffrey W. Johnson, in his acceptance speech at NYC’s Metropolitan Club, stated, “We aren’t the oldest firm, we’re not the most well known firm, and we are far from the largest, but we do have one of the best teams in the industry and we are honored by the tremendous partnerships that we have established with our LPs, portfolio companies, management teams, lenders, and service providers.”

Blackford Capital was also recognized with the Small Markets – USA Deal of the Year Award for the acquisition of Airhead Sports Group by its portfolio company Aqua-Leisure Recreation. The acquisition was a significant step in Blackford’s growth strategy to transition Aqua-Leisure into the premier market leader within the aquatics consumer products industry, and has presented synergistic purchasing and cross selling opportunities between the legacy businesses, significantly priming the combined company for growth across omni-channel retail outlets and wholesale distribution.

Americas M&A Atlas Awards is part of the prestigious M&A Atlas Awards global brand, exclusively honoring the best value-generating deals, star dealmakers and outstanding firms from North and South America; Americas Rising Star Dealmakers Award singularly honors brilliant and exceptional young dealmakers for their achievements, dedication, and talents for closing value creating transactions.

For more information, and for a detailed list of all the Award winners for the 2023 Americas M&A Atlas Awards and Rising Star Awards, please visit

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. With a track record of exceptional returns, a disciplined and relentless approach to value creation, and a focus on operational excellence and a compelling culture, Blackford was named the Private Equity Firm of the Year by M&A Advisor in 2022, 2021 and 2018. Several of its portfolio companies have been included on the Inc. 5000.