Prime Leather Finishes acquired by ECC Holdings

Holding company buying up coatings manufacturers


Pewaukee-based chemical coatings manufacturer Prime Leather Finishes Co. has been acquired by ECC Holdings LLC. The transaction closed March 30.

The Prime Leather Finishes campus in Pewaukee.

Prime Leather Finishes subsidiary Prime Coatings was also included in the transaction. According to an SEC filing related to the transaction, ECC raised about $5 million in equity for the deal. ECC chief executive officer Steven Hughes declined to give the total transaction price or name the prior owner of Prime Leather.

According to its website, Prime Leather Finishes was established in 1931 by Arthur Welch and is one of the largest manufacturers of products for tanners, shoe manufacturers and leather goods makers. Prime Coatings was started in 1969. Prime Leather sells its products internationally. Terence Welch, president and CEO, began leading the company in 2004. There are about 35 employees at Prime Coatings, all of whom are being retained at the same facility in the transaction, Hughes said.

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“At the end of the day, it boils down to succession planning,” Hughes said. “Ownership being at a crossroads and trying to figure out how they can keep moving forward.”

Pewaukee-based ECC Holdings was formed in August 2017 to bring several industrial OEM coatings companies under the same roof.

In November, ECC also acquired Sugar Grove, Illinois-based industrial coatings manufacturer Finishes Unlimited Inc. An SEC filing related to that transaction indicates ECC raised $2.5 million in equity for the deal. Finishes was owned by an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. All of Finishes’ roughly 20 employees were retained at the same location in the transaction, and ECC has hired another four employees there, Hughes said.

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“They sell into the exact same channel. They have like chemistries,” he said of Prime Leather and Finishes Unlimited. “There’s good synergies, they’re in the same demographic, same technologies. It all fits very nicely together.”

Hughes has worked in the coatings industry for 28 years, predominantly in industrial OEM coatings.

Milwaukee private equity firm PS Capital Partners was involved in the fundraising for ECC’s acquisitions.

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