Trice Medical Closes $18.3 Million Series C Extension

January 14, 2019

MALVERN, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Trice Medical announced today that it closed an $18.3 million Series C Extension financing round. The company will use the proceeds to expand their worldwide commercialization efforts for mi-eye 2™ and mi-ultra™ and to accelerate the development of their minimally invasive product portfolio.

This round was led by Charter Capital Partners of Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System(MERS) of Michigan. Other investors in Trice include Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. (NYSE:SFE), HealthQuest CapitalBioStar Ventures and Smith & Nephew.

John Kerschen, Managing Partner of Charter Capital Partners, stated, “We have been tracking Trice’s progress for almost five years and are pleased to make this investment at this point in the Company’s growth. Trice has a unique value proposition in the market with its mi-eye 2™ platform and we see physicians from all over the country embracing the mi-eye™ as the preferred way to visualize potential orthopedic injuries in an office setting.” more

Ablative Solutions secures $77 million in largest known VC deal in Michigan

January 3, 2019 - MiBiz

Ablative Solutions Inc. secured $77 million in financing that ranks as the largest known venture capital deal ever in Michigan.

Netherlands-based Gilde Healthcare, which has an office on Boston, led the Series D financing round in Kalamazoo-based Ablative Solutions, which developed a catheter system to treat uncontrollable hypertension by deactivating nerves in renal arteries.

Petoskey-based BioStar Ventures, Michigan Accelerator Fund 1 in Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo-based Novus Biotechnology Fund 1 co-led the VC round, which includes an unnamed strategic investor and several individual investors. The funding will take the company through late-stage clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe to prove the effectiveness of the treatment. more

Kimball Agrees to Acquire David Edward

October 19, 2018 - Interior Design Magazine

Office furniture specialist Kimball has signed a definitive agreement to acquire David Edward, the family-owned manufacturer of upholstery and furniture targeting the corporate, health care, education and hospitality markets.

“We were inspired by the employees’ commitment to quality and their incredible tailoring skills,” says Kimball president Mike Wagner. “We will further invest in David Edward and build their brand by broadening their ancillary product portfolio.”

Additionally, Wagner expects to leverage David Edward’s expertise to expand Kimball’s range of seating and help fuel growth of the manufacturer’s Kimball Health assortment. more

Time to Act? Advisers tell clients to accelerate transaction timelines to take advantage of strong valuations

October 13, 2018 - MiBiz

Mergers and acquisition activity remained strong in West Michigan through the third quarter, as many sellers opted to go to market while they can still get a good price for their businesses.

Professionals in the M&A industry describe a clear seller’s market in which clients exiting their businesses often receive multiple offers from prospective buyers. Private equity firms and family offices remain active, competing hard for good deals, which is keeping valuation multiples up.

John Kerschen, president and managing partner of Charter Capital Partners, a Grand Rapids-based M&A firm that typically works in the lower middle market, attributes the private equity activity this year to the massive amount of “dry powder” in the U.S.

American private equity firms entered the year with a record $353 billion in dry powder, up 44 percent from 12 months earlier, according to an August report by the Washington, D.C.-based American Investment Council.

As private equity firms face deadlines to deploy their available capital, they’ve become increasingly active and competitive for deals, driving up multiples, Kerschen said.

“They have so much money and they have to get it deployed, so they’re willing to pay up,” he said. “There’s a sense of urgency to get transactions done.” more

New fund model opens VC investing options to wealth advisers

August 3, 2018 - MiBiz

GRAND RAPIDS — The newest investment fund in West Michigan offers a new model for individual investors to take their first steps into the world of venture capital.

Charter Capital Partners in Grand Rapids formed the Henrickson Nauta Venture Fund 1 LP on behalf of Belmont-based wealth management firm Henrickson Nauta Wealth Advisors Inc.

According to executives, the new fund serves two purposes in diversifying Henrickson Nauta Wealth Advisors’ product offering and creating a direct link to the higher returns possible with venture capital investing compared to the public equities market.

“We are open to looking at alternative investments and alternative investing in general,” said Jeff Nauta, a principal and chief compliance officer at Henrickson Nauta Wealth Advisors.

The firm has high net worth clients, generally retirees, who are “looking at and growing more and more comfortable with the idea of alternative investments,” Nauta said.

“Clients have an appetite for this,” he told MiBiz. “We see a growing trend, especially among business owners who’ve had a liquidity event. They know business and they like to maybe maintain that cadence as far as reviewing the financials and understanding what’s going on in the business.”

Charter Capital Partners envisions a series of annual or biannual funds in which wealth managers have access and input into investment decisions, Grogan said. Charter Capital Partners manages the new fund on behalf of Henrickson Nauta Wealth Advisors, which has a representative on the investment review committee, he said. more

With flurry of deals, office furniture companies seek to fill product gaps

June 24, 2018 - MiBiz

Whether via acquisition or partnership agreements, West Michigan’s office furniture makers are looking to fill product holes with their recent spate of deals. In the span of about six months, Grand Rapids-based Steelcase Inc. (NYSE: SCS) and Zeeland-based Herman Miller Inc. (Nasdaq: MLHR) announced nearly $286 million in acquisitions. The deals signaled to industry watchers that the largest office furniture OEMs were getting serious about adding new capabilities, chasing sales and rounding out their product portfolios.

“I think most of the larger companies in the industry are actively pursuing acquisitions currently,” said John Kerschen, managing partner and president of Charter Capital Partners, a Grand Rapidsbased investment banking firm that includes an M&A practice focused on the office furniture industry.

“A fair share of that (dealmaking) is this transition from selling furniture to being space solution providers for the entire space,” Kerschen said. “It’s about having product and solutions for the entire space, not just desk chairs.” more

For Holland VC, fundraising environment remains 'pretty healthy'

March 18, 2018 – MiBiz

The organizers behind the new cultivate(MD) Capital Fund GP LLC found backers by appealing to their own global professional networks and investors with whom they had previously done business. The approach led cultivate(MD) to close this month on the first $7.2 million toward a $10 million goal the fund aims to raise in what Managing Director Rob Ball calls a “pretty healthy” fundraising environment.

As cultivate(MD) scouts for deals, the health care arena offers plenty of opportunity for firms targeting early-stage medical device startups, said John Kerschen, managing director of Michigan Accelerator Fund I, a Grand Rapids-based venture capital fund that has fully deployed all of its capital. Venture capital funds targeting the medical device sector “have tended to drift a bit later in the device space,” he said. “I still believe there’s a significant amount of deal flow, particularly at the earlier stage,” Kerschen said. “There’s still a significant amount of innovation and entrepreneurship in that space relative to the dollars dedicated.”

Kerschen also sees a fundraising environment that remains positive, even with investors finding good returns from the stock market and with Michigan’s economy at a relatively strong position overall. Venture capital and private equity firms are still relatively young markets in Michigan. While both areas have posted solid growth for more than a decade — and the pool of prospective investors has expanded — early investors who put money into funds “are waiting for the return or proof of returns from some of those early investments before they commit substantially more capital,” Kerschen said. more

Advisers expect strong deal flow for 2018, despite talent, geopolitical challenges

January 7, 2018 - MiBiz

M&A activity should remain strong in 2018 and perhaps get a push from federal tax reform.

As well, rising interest rates should not pose a barrier to deal flow, although most companies — whether on the buy-side or sell-side — face a key challenge with finding skilled talent. 

That’s according to a group of M&A advisers that MiBiz gathered for a roundtable discussion on the state of the deal-making market in West Michigan. 

Participants in the roundtable were:

  • Mike Brown, partner with Charter Capital Partners, a Grand Rapids-based investment banking firm
  • Jason Byrd, co-founder and managing partner at Concurrence Capital Holdings LLC, a Grand Rapids-based private equity firm
  • Jeff Helminski, managing partner at Grand Rapids-based Auxo Investment Partners, a private equity firm
  • Rajesh Kothari, managing partner at Cascade Partners LLC, an investment banking and private investment firm based in Southfield
  • Remos Lenio, partner at Grand Rapids-based Tillerman & Co., an investment banking and merchant banking firm
  • Matthew Miller, managing partner at BlueWater Partners LLC, a Grand Rapids-based investment banking and consulting firm
  • John Pollock, managing director of LV2 Equity Partners LLC, a Grand Rapids-based private equity firm 
  • Peter Roth, partner at Grand Rapids-based Varnum LLP, which sponsored the discussion

Here are some highlights from the discussion. 

Private equity deal positions Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing for growth

November 26, 2017 - MiBiz

Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing Inc. was struggling in late 2010 when a group of West Michigan investors put up $5 million to acquire the company’s assets.

The initial investment seven years ago put GRAM onto the right trajectory. The company began attracting clients, secured additional capital, and over the years grew to more than $20 million in annual sales with a workforce of 160, nearly three times that of just a few years earlier.

Now a fast-growing contract developer and manufacturer of injectable drugs for pharmaceutical companies, GRAM is entering a new stage. Investors this month sold a majority of the company to private equity firm Arlington Capital Partners of Chevy Chase, Md.

The investment recapitalized GRAM for expansion and continued fast-paced growth.

“As many people in West Michigan know, it wasn’t an easy start for the company and it took a while to get its feet under them and gain some traction,” said John Kerschen, the managing director at Charter Capital Partners, a lead investor that retained a minority interest in GRAM.

“We’re happy to make money and have success as investors, of course, but it’s a really heartwarming story in terms of taking something from almost nothing to a nice, sustainable business,” Kerschen said. “GRAM would not be here if it weren’t for this collection of investors from around West Michigan or the state. It was a good collective effort.” more

Chicago PE firm acquires majority stake in Grand Rapids health care auditing company

January 14, 2018 - MiBiz

SpendMend LLC, a company that provides spending visibility and audit and recovery services to the health care industry, sold a majority stake to Chicago-based private equity firm Sheridan Capital Partners.

The recapitalization and investment from Sheridan Capital, which invested along with SpendMend’s founders and managers, will support the continued growth of the company.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although SpendMend’s founders and managers retained “a meaningful ownership stake in the business,” according to an announcement of the investment.

“Through our partnership with the Sheridan team, we look forward to accelerating the growth of SpendMend and further developing our capabilities and overall value proposition as it relates to the healthcare industry,” stated SpendMend President Rob Heminger.  Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC served as the legal adviser for SpendMend, which worked with Grand Rapids-based advisers Charter Capital Partners.

Sheridan Capital was advised by the law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. Fidus Investment Corp. and Cadence Bank provided debt financing for the transaction.
“As the market leader in health care audit recovery, SpendMend’s services help health care executives, operators and providers navigate an increasingly challenging macro-economic environment of reimbursement pressure and rising organizational costs,” said Jonathan Lewis, managing partner at Sheridan Capital. “Cost containment is and will continue to be a high-priority focus in health care, and SpendMend plays a critical part in helping organizations find and establish long-term operational sustainability.”

Sheridan Capital Partners focuses on leveraged buyouts in the health care and consumer industry. It specializes in U.S. and Canadian companies with enterprise values between $25 million to $150 million.

“Sheridan’s sector focus and ability to bring both relevant experience and immediate value to our organization was undeniable,” stated SpendMend CEO Dan Geelhoed.  more

Crystal Flash acquires Kalamazoo fuels distribution company

September 25, 2017 - MiBiz

Crystal Flash, an employee-owned fuels distribution company, continues its buying spree. The Grand Rapids-based firm said today that it had acquired Knapp Energy Inc. of Kalamazoo, a distributor of gasoline, diesel, home heating and lubricants with more than 900 customers, according to a statement. Crystal Flash expects to retain all of Knapp’s employees in the deal, which was finalized last week. Terms of the deal, Crystal Flash’s eleventh acquisition since 2011, were not disclosed.

Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners advised Crystal Flash on the transaction.

“As we continue to expand our footprint, joining with companies closely align to our purpose and values is very important,” President Tom Olive said in a statement. “Our shared backgrounds as independent fuel distributors committed to exceptional service makes the Knapp acquisition a natural fit.” more

Investment banking firm advises on UK deal

August 25, 2017 - Grand Rapids Business Journal

The Grand Rapids-based investment banking firm Charter Capital Partners said yesterday that London-based ACM Group, or Alpha, whose management team works out of Grand Rapids, has agreed to sell technology, intellectual property and customer assets to the London-based gaming company Playtech. Charter Capital Partners assisted Alpha with the transaction.

The acquisition includes an up-front payment of $5 million, two staged payments based on the EBITDA of 2017 and 2018 and contingent consideration based on a 5.2 multiplied 2019 EBITDA, with total consideration capped at $150 million.

“We are pleased to be part of the Playtech family,” Alpha CEO Muhammad Al-Amin Rasoul said. “Their understanding of our business, married with their financial strength is a perfect fit for us. Most importantly, we will be able to better serve both companies clients with the additional capabilities afforded by this transaction.”

Dale Grogan, managing director of Charter Capital Partners, said Alpha is an "excellent example of the great businesses that are built in Grand Rapids. The entire Alpha team, based literally all over the globe, represents the very best in business diversity, led by a dynamic Grand Rapids leadership team." more

Partners produce event on transitioning family businesses

July 5, 2017 - Grand Rapids Business Journal

A local investment banking firm is co-hosting a business planning seminar focused on continuing the success of family businesses across generations.

Charter Capital Partners has partnered with BDO and Miller Johnson to host Mapping the Legacy of Your Family Business on July 25 at GVSU’s L. William Siedman Center in Grand Rapids, at 50 Front St. SW.

The seminar will take place from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Loosemore Forum, room 1008.

Doors for the seminar open at 3 p.m. for appetizers and networking opportunities. Attendees are required to register prior to the event at

The seminar will center on how to transition a family owned business across multiple generations, with discussions on common misconceptions about gifting a business, what to ask when developing a succession plan, opportunities to build a family succession solution and wealth protection strategies.

Business expert Tom Deans, who authored “Every Family’s Business,” will present at the seminar, which will include a panel discussion from Charter, BDO and Miller Johnson industry professionals. more

Charter Earns Best and Brightest Recognition


Charter Capital Partners was recognized today as one of West Michigan’s 2017 Best and Brightest Company to Work For® at an awards ceremony taking place at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This award honors companies that display a commitment to innovative human resource practices and employee enrichment. Organizations are assessed based on various categories such as communication, work-life balance, employee education, and more. 

Charter was recognized for placing a high priority on work-life balance. In an assessment report provided by the sponsor organization, Charter was also positioned in the top 15% of recognized companies in the category of Strategic Company Performance, based on the firm's collaborative approach to proactively driving performance across all levels of the organization.

"Our strategic planning process involves every team member, for shared accountability, and is backed by a bonus system that enables all employees to share in the rewards of a job well done,” said John Kerschen, managing director. “The team we’ve built is the backbone that makes Charter a great place to work, and we are honored to be recognized as one of West Michigan's best and brightest companies to work for.”

For the complete list of West Michigan winners, visit the 101 Best and Brightest website.

Investment banking firm named to 'Advisor 100'

April 4, 2017 - Grand Rapids Business Journal

A local investment banking firm has been named one of the most-referred middle-market advisors in the nation by its peers. Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners was included in Axial’s inaugural 2017 “Advisor 100” ranking. Axial, a network comprising investors, advisors and CEOs, chose the winning firms by surveying 1,000 private equity firms, strategic acquirers and family offices.

Charter was one of three firms in the state to earn the designation, joined by Birmingham-based Finnea Group and Detroit-based Quarton International.

“We are honored that our clients and colleagues felt we were worthy of recommending to be included in this impressive list of firms located throughout the country,” said John Kerschen, managing director, Charter Capital Partners. “Being named as one of the Axial ‘Advisor 100’ confirms that our expertise in meeting the M&A needs of our clients is not going unnoticed.” more

Charter Capital Partners named in Axial's Top 100 Advisors

March 30, 2017 - Yahoo Finance

Charter Capital Partners, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based investment banking and capital management firm, today announced that it has been included in Axial's 2017 Advisor 100 List for most referred middle-market advisory firms in the United States, according to a survey of 1,000 private equity firms, strategic acquirers, and family offices.

According to the Axial, "We set out to find the very best middle market M&A advisory firms and investment banks in the USA for 2017. We did not want to create this list from deal tables or subjective criteria of our own. The currency we were interested in was referrals. We went looking for recommendations from the very people who have worked both alongside and across the negotiating table from countless advisors."

Charter was the sole West Michigan representative and one of only three firms headquartered in Michigan to make the inaugural Axial Advisor 100 list. The firm serves the middle market from four offices in the Midwest, utilizing a client-focused, collaborative approach to meet client needs in a wide range of investment banking transactions.

"We are honored that our clients and colleagues felt we were worthy of recommending to be included in this impressive list of firms located throughout the country," said John Kerschen, managing director. "Being named as one of the Axial Advisor 100 confirms that our expertise in meeting the M&A needs of our clients is not going unnoticed." more

Crystal Flash acquires Southeast Michigan fuels distributor

March 8, 2017 - MiBiz

Fuel distributor Crystal Flash Inc. has expanded its geographic footprint into Southeast Michigan with a new acquisition, its tenth since 2011.

The deal for the Adrian-based Lenawee Farm Bureau Oil Cooperative includes more than 500 customers. Two employees will stay on with Grand Rapids-based Crystal Flash, according to a statement.

Lenawee County Farm Bureau Oil Cooperative serves agricultural, commercial, construction and home heating oil customers.

Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners served as financial adviser to Crystal Flash on the deal. more

Crystal Flash acquires Richardson Oil of Southwest Michigan

January 4, 2017 - MiBiz

Crystal Flash has acquired Richardson Oil LLC in a move that will expand the company’s footprint in Southwest Michigan. Lawrence-based Richardson Oil distributes a variety of fuel including diesel, gasoline and kerosene. Crystal Flash, a fuel distribution company based in Grand Rapids, will add over 350 new customers and four employees as a result of the deal.

 Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners advised Crystal Flash on the transaction. The firm has advised Crystal Flash in the acquisition of nine companies since 2011. Crystal Flash employs 250 people across 14 locations in Michigan. In May 2016, the company was purchased by its employees via a leveraged employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

 “Our transition to an employee stock ownership plan earlier this year allows us to offer employees who join us through an acquisition a true path to ownership,” said President Tom Olive. Olive, who joined Crystal Flash in 2015 to take over for former company president Tom Fehsenfeld, believes that the company’s status as an ESOP will “be an attractive option for business owners looking to transition into retirement or a next chapter.” more

Ferguson acquires Indiana distributor

November 28, 2016 - Supply House Times

Ferguson Waterworks recently acquired Underground Pipe & Valve in an asset transaction completed in mid-November. Charter Capital Partners served as financial advisor to Underground Pipe & Valve.

Headquartered in South Bend, Ind., Underground Pipe & Valve has been in business for nearly 40 years and offers a full line of water and sewer products through its four locations in Indiana and Michigan. The acquisition complements the new Ferguson Waterworks locations from the recent acquisitions of Michigan Pipe & Valve – Lansing, Michigan Pipe & Valve – Flint and Michigan Meter Technology Group.

“Growing our brick-and-mortar locations is an integral part of our growth strategy, and our recent waterworks acquisitions in the upper Midwest will position us a true competitor in the local market,” Ferguson CEO Frank Roach said. “We are pleased to welcome Underground Pipe & Valve’s associates to Ferguson.”

Underground Pipe & Valve owner Don Nuner added: “While we have been successful as an independent distributor for some time, we are excited about the chance to become part of the Ferguson family. We feel Ferguson brings added value to our customers and good long-term opportunities for our employees.”

Ferguson Waterworks, a division of Ferguson Enterprises, has more than 200 locations and 2,000 dedicated Waterworks associates. more

California PE firm acquires majority stake in Motion Dynamics

September 13, 2016 - MiBiz

Medical device supplier Motion Dynamics Corp. has received a major capital investment from a Los Angeles-based private equity firm to support growth.

Vance Street Capital took a majority position in Motion Dynamics, a manufacturer of small metal components and sub-assemblies used in disposable medical devices. The private equity firm specializes in medical, aerospace and defense investments. The firm provides not only needed capital but expertise and networks within the medical device industry that Motion Dynamics can tap to enter new markets and secure additional customers.

“It was really done to help us expand in the medical device arena and help us expand in some markets that we’re currently not in that they have experience with,” said Chris Witham, the second-generation CEO of Motion Dynamics. “We want to go farther upstream, and that requires manufacturing capabilities that we currently don’t have in-house, and don’t have the network of customers.”

Witham — whose father, Dick, started Motion Dynamics in 1992 — retains a minority but “significant portion” of the company and continues as CEO. The company’s management team also remains intact and the business will “absolutely” remain in Fruitport, he said.

Charter Capital Partners in Grand Rapids and Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC served as financial and legal advisers to Motion Dynamics. more