General Information

Blackford Capital Acquires Transformer Manufacturer Grand Transformers, Inc.

March 17, 2014

Grand Haven, Michigan Manufacturer Becomes Third Company in Michigan Prosperity Fund

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- Continuing to build on its commitment to invest Michigan private equity in Michigan-based companies, Blackford Capital today announced the acquisition of Grand Haven, Mich.-based Grand Transformers, Inc. (GTI), a designer and manufacturer of transformers and inductive components serving the drives, elevator, power quality, instrumentation, energy and oil and gas industries.

Blackford Capital, a national private equity firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich. that acquires, manages and builds middle-market manufacturing, distribution and service companies, said the acquisition is the third in the firm's Michigan Prosperity Fund. The Fund, created in 2012, aims to generate best-in-class equity returns for investors within the state of Michigan, and also to support the local economy by protecting and creating jobs locally. Blackford previously acquired Grand Rapids-based Custom Profile, Inc. and Metro Detroit-based Mopec under the Fund.

Grand Transformers was founded in 1948 by K.C. Retzlaff. The company was purchased from Retzlaff by his two sons, Greg and Jerry, in 1973 and currently employs 70 people at its 55,000-square-foot facility in Grand Haven.

"Grand Transformers' advanced engineering and lean manufacturing operations have made the Company the market leader in its field," said Jeff Helminski, managing director of Blackford Capital. "We are honored that Greg and Jerry have entrusted their family legacy to our stewardship, and are excited to work with the existing GTI management team to grow the company and create jobs in Michigan."

Blackford Capital will be implementing a board of directors and employing operating partners to support the management team and the growth of the business. Ed Smith, currently GTI's chief operating officer, will be promoted to CEO and will continue to lead the GTI team.

"Blackford Capital brings a wealth of strategic knowledge and financial resources to GTI," said Smith. "We look forward to working closely with Blackford to grow our existing business, expand into new markets, and add more jobs in the community."

Comerica Bank and Huntington Bank provided financing for the transaction.

GTI's Board of Directors will consist of: Jeff Helminski, Blackford Capital managing director; Ed Smith, CEO of Grand Transformers; Wesley MacAllister, Blackford Capital operating partner and former vice president of manufacturing at Cascade Engineering; Shreedhar Shah, president of power systems engineering firm Shah and Associates; Robert Roth, president of transformer manufacturer RoMan Manufacturing, as well as others to be named at a later date. All board members have strong ties to Michigan and a depth of talent and expertise that will be instrumental to GTI's continued growth.

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