Hartland-based Dorner Manufacturing Corp. is being acquired by Columbus McKinnon Corp., a New York-based maker of motion control and automation products, from EQT Private Equity. The $485 million deal marks the second Waukesha County acquisition Columbus McKinnon has made since 2015, when the company purchased Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek for $188.9 million.
In a recent interview with BizTimes reporter Maredithe Meyer, Columbus McKinnon president and CEO David Wilson discussed the significance of the deal and what Dorner brings to the table.
“Dorner is a company that fits directly in line with our strategy. We developed our ‘Blueprint for Growth 2.0’ strategy, which had us focusing on developing our business both organically and through M&A activities. In the M&A space, we were really targeting attractive micro-segments within the automation landscape, and one of those was specialty conveyance. Dorner, as a precision conveyor company participating in that $5 billion global specialty conveyor market, was a very attractive company within that space; and situated in Wisconsin, very close to our Magnetek business in Menomonee Falls.
“We see Dorner as really broadening our expertise in material handling and intelligent motion solutions. They participate in some really attractive, strong secular growth markets such as e-commerce, life sciences, food processing, consumer packaged goods and industrial automation and they have a track record of delivering double-digit growth.”
Southeastern Wisconsin presence
“The addition of Dorner really allows us, and extends the opportunity, to leverage the control solutions expertise that we acquired within Magnetek. I would say that southeastern Wisconsin is a hub for industrial automation, with easy access to talent and the engineering and controls space. Wisconsin has four accredited engineering schools and Menomonee Falls for us is a large and successful plant that we’ve made investments in and continue to make investments in, so Wisconsin’s been a key area of focus for us.
“Dorner being situated so close to Menomonee Falls did add a layer of attractiveness. That team is a valued part of our workforce … and we’re encouraged to develop and grow within that region. Today, we have about 400 employees in Wisconsin and with the addition of Dorner, we’ll end up with almost 700.”
“I believe we’re in the early stages of what some are calling an automation revolution. … In the wake of the (COVID-19) pandemic now there’s even more demand and mega-trend drivers for accelerating the pace of that automation work. Because you want to make sure you can keep people at safe distances, you want to have more machines able to do the things that can be automated.
“Dorner’s specialty conveyance products are really the hub of most automation solutions: they connect machines to machines, they travel through machines, They interact with robotic arms and just about every piece of equipment you can imagine in a factory, and ultimately, they can connect those machines to people and be connected as well through the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 and 5.0 technologies.”