Safeway Sling manufactures overhead lifting slings and tie downs, most of which are custom-made out of polyester, nylon, steel wire rope or metal mesh and used for heavy lifting on construction and manufacturing sites. The company was established in a rented Cudahy basement in 1980 by Susan and Jim Szymczak. It has grown to 36 employees and $7.2 million in annual revenue.
“One of the reasons that this was necessary is that I know that none of us live forever and I work with some of the most wonderful people,” Susan Szymczak said. “We’ve got a number of people that have been here for 20-plus years and they have to be taken care of.”
Bishop Lifting, a subsidiary of SBP Holdings, makes, distributes and rents wire rope, sling and rigging products and services. Its sister company Singer Equities makes industrial hose, conveyor belt and gasket material. Together, the companies have 1,080 employees at 61 North American locations.
Bishop described Safeway as the “gold standard” for overhead lifting slings in an announcement.
“We are excited with the addition of Safeway Sling to our family of companies,” said Harold King, president of Bishop. “Safeway Sling has a proven track record in our industry of supplying the highest quality synthetic slings with the highest level of service.”
Susan and Jim will stay on at Safeway for three years, and Bishop has named their daughter Andrea vice president and general manager. The Greendale operations will remain in place and all of the employees will be retained in the transaction, Susan said.
“They’re committed to keeping Safeway here,” she said. “We’re totally set up as a sling manufacturer. If you move the tester even one inch, it’s considered out of calibration.”
Milwaukee investment bank Emory & Co. advised Safeway Sling in the transaction.
“We ran a full sale process, contacting numerous strategic buyers and private equity groups, and Bishop Lifting emerged as the clear choice as the best buyer,” said John Emory Jr., president of Emory & Co.
The marketing process generated 26 interested parties, Susan said.
“I was surprised that there would be that many people interested in this little company,” she said. “I think the level of integrity is very high and that’s critical.”
Susan said the cultural fit was ideal with Bishop, which is why Safeway ultimately chose it.
“The values and the meeting of the minds is just uncanny,” she said.