Article Courtesy of KPC News
Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 11:00 pm
FORT WAYNE — North River Capital LLC, a Fort Wayne-based equity capital firm, said Tuesday it has acquired a majority interest in Auburn Gear, which designs and makes custom-engineered wheel drives, axle drive components and specialty drives for automobiles and mobile equipment applications.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The business was purchased from the George Callas family, which owned and operated the company for more than 30 years.
“I believe that the acquisition of Auburn Gear by North River Capital is very good for the company and for its employees,” Callas said in a news release. “Being a local firm enables them to work closely with the company to support growth and to be sensitive to the needs and concerns of its employees.”
North River Capital, formed in 2008 by members of the Rifkin family and former OmniSource Corp. executives, had partners in the acquisition: Marty Palmer, president of Auburn Gear; and F.N.B. Capital Partners, a Pittsburgh-based small business investment company. The Rifkin family founded MetalX at Waterloo in 2012.
First Financial Bank, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and F.N.B Capital Partners provided financing for the transaction.
“We’re very pleased to have Auburn Gear join our growing portfolio of companies focused on core industrial manufacturing,” Danny Rifkin, a principal at North River Capital, said in the statement. “Auburn Gear has an outstanding reputation, a history of innovation and a demonstrated ability to produce solid financial results, even in volatile periods. We are looking forward to the opportunity to help the organization effect its growth strategy.”
North River Capital said Palmer will continue to lead Auburn Gear as president. Hourly workers and Auburn Gear’s management team will continue with the company, according to the statement. In all, Auburn Gear employs 170 people.
“We are excited to be partnering with North River Capital and believe this transaction will be beneficial to our continued strategic growth, our customers and our employees,” Palmer said in the statement. “North River Capital’s culture and business philosophies are a good match with Auburn Gear’s, which will continue to support our emphasis on providing our customers with innovative drive solutions designed for their specific requirements, the highest level of technical support, continued quality brand performance, along with the shortest lead times in the industry.”
Among the products Auburn Gear makes are planetary gearboxes, electric drive systems, driveline systems and differentials that transfer power and torque to wheels, axles, booms, augers, winches and platforms.
North River Capital is a privately held equity capital firm. Its investment strategy focuses on acquiring majority ownership in companies with growth potential. Its portfolio companies include T-E Inc. in Fort Wayne, Wayne Manufacturing LLC in LaOtto, ARC Alabama LLC, Coldwater Machine Co. LLC, Artic Fox LLC and White Hat Entertainment LLC.
Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. acted as financial advisers to the sellers.