Blackthorne Partners acquires Berlon Industries

Blackthorne Partners Ltd., a Mequon-based private equity firm, announced it has acquired Berlon Industries, a Hustisford-based manufacturer of buckets and attachments for skid loaders, telehandlers and compact utility tractors.

Berlon serves a customer base of approximately 900 companies in the agricultural, construction and landscape management industries through an extensive dealer network.

According to Steve Balistreri, a Blackthorne Partners principal, Berlon Industries is well positioned to grow.

“Berlon is a 63-year-old company with a very high quality, yet affordable product line that has enabled it to build a strong brand reputation and serve a niche customer base. Our goal is to build on this foundation by equipping them with the resources they need to grow, but that can be difficult for small companies like Berlon to access,” Balistreri said.

In conjunction with the acquisition, Mike Ebben, an experienced manufacturing industry leader, has been hired to serve as Berlon’s president. Lon Berndt, Berlon’s current owner, will work with Ebben in transition.

“As the longtime owner of Berlon Industries, I was determined to make sure the next chapter of this company takes good care of our customers as well as our employees,” Berndt said. “The team of Blackthorne and Mike Ebben offer the experience and commitment it will take to grow the legacy we’ve built over the years.”

Blackthorne Partners, which made its first direct investment in September 2010, is targeting smaller, established companies that are often overlooked by traditional private equity firms.
“We believe there are many companies in our market, like Berlon, whose future can be brighter with the right ownership transition,” said Balistreri. “By focusing on companies with earnings of approximately $1 million, we not only serve an unmet need in the marketplace but have an opportunity to help these smaller businesses become the mid-market companies that are the future of Wisconsin.”

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