Hustisford-based Berlon Industries, a portfolio company of Delafield-based private equity firm Blackthorne Partners, has acquired Viola-based Lowe Manufacturing. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Lowe Manufacturing is a supplier of auger, trench and grapple attachments for skid steer loaders and other machinery. It has 36 employees. Berlon Industries manufactures high-quality buckets and attachments for skid loaders, telehandlers, and compact utility tractors. Taylor Kotke, vice president of Emory & Co., which represented Lowe Manufacturing during their sale, said owners Richard and Mary Lowe didn’t have any children who were actively involved in the business or someone to transition ownership to. This led to their decision to sell Lowe Manufacturing. Richard Lowe will retire from the company while Mary Lowe will remain with the business. The acquisition includes the Spiral Metals, LLC, division of Lowe Manufacturing, which specializes in non-standard helicoid flighting, sectional flighting, and conveyor screws. The spiral products are used within Lowe’s attachments and sold to outside customers. “The company was originally started by Richard’s father and Richard joined in the early 1980s. He certainly put his thumbprint on the business and grew it to where it is today, but it was really a scenario where they (the Lowes) realized it was time and they wanted to see their business continue to grow,” Kotke said. There were 15 parties that expressed interest in Lowe Manufacturing through the first round bids, which Kotke said is a strong market response. “Berlon Industries and Blackthorne Partners kind of stood head and shoulders above the rest, partly because of the strategic fit as well as cultural fit. Lowe Manufacturing’s products are very complimentary to the attachments that Berlon Industries manufactures, so it allows them additional product opportunities and an additional manufacturing site. The labor base at Lowe Manufacturing is also very attractive,” Kotke said.
Randy Schickert, president and chief executive officer of Berlon Industries, said the Lowe brand, the company’s people and its locations in western Wisconsin will be retained.
“The Lowe brand actually has a lot of brand equity as well, so that’s one of the things they’re intending to use and keep,” Kotke said.