Motion Dynamics Corporation Announces Strategic Partnership

September 12, 2016 - PR Newswire

Motion Dynamics Corporation, a Fruitport, Mich.-based manufacturer of custom wire components for the medical, electronics, aerospace and military markets, today announced its strategic partnership with Vance Street Capital, a Los Angeles-based private investment firm.

Motion Dynamics manufactures some of the smallest and most difficult wire components in the world. The company focuses primarily on the design, engineering, production and assembly of high quality wire components and sub-assemblies for medical device applications.

"Our company has achieved significant growth and performance since its inception, and we have been seeking the right opportunity to significantly accelerate that growth and take our performance to an even higher level," said Chris Witham, president of Motion Dynamics. "Given this strategy, we believe that now is the ideal time to bring in a strategic investor to deliver on our business goals, and Vance Street Capital, with over two decades of experience and a proven track record, is the right partner to help us achieve that next level of growth."

Vance Street Capital is a private investment firm which primarily invests in middle-market businesses that are established leaders in providing highly engineered solutions for niche markets in the aerospace, defense, industrial and medical sectors.

Motion Dynamics was advised throughout the transaction process by Charter Capital Partners, exclusive financial advisor in the transaction. Principals of Charter Capital Partners acted on behalf of the company in their capacity as licensed investment banking agents of M&A Securities Group, Inc. Miller Johnson served as legal advisor.

"We worked closely with Chris to identify the best match to continue his vision of the company," said Jason T. Byrd, managing director at Charter Capital Partners. "With its unmatched expertise in providing strategic support and investment capital to companies in the medical and aerospace operations, Vance Street Capital presents a unique ability to assist current leadership in further enhancing the company's robust growth."

Chris Witham and the existing management team will continue to lead the company. more

Charter advises Kentucky furniture manufacturer in deal with PE firm

August 28, 2016 - MiBiz

An investment banking adviser believes the current environment in the contract furniture industry should lead to more deals getting done before the end of the year. Andrew Williams, a director at Charter Capital Partners and head of the firm’s national contract furniture industry practice, said the sector mirrors what’s going on in other industries. “Contract furniture is no different than the broader North American economy with a lot of baby boomers identifying a succession plan in their businesses,” Williams told MiBiz. “There are certainly more deals to come yet this year.”

Williams served as lead on the transaction advisory team for Louisville-based KFI Seating, which last week announced a deal with Weller Equity Partners, also of Louisville. In the deal, two of the company’s owners looked for an equity partner to buy out a third owner who was looking to retire, as well as give the firm resources to grow, he said. The three co-owners were “able to achieve their financial and personal goals” and allow the two partners to remain with the company after the deal. 

As the company went to market, it garnered “significant interest” from strategic investors and private equity firms alike, Williams added. The response to the KFI deal was emblematic of the capital chasing opportunities in the broader industrial sector, said Williams, who has long ties to contract furniture. “In contract furniture, M&A remains very healthy with too much capital chasing … deals out there,” he said, adding that since the KFI deal was announced, he’s already received calls from other prospects. 

Charter Capital, which also operates two Indiana-based offices in South Bend and Indianapolis, first connected with KFI Seating during the 2015 NeoCon contract furniture trade show in Chicago. The company, which manufactures seating and table products, had looked at another deal Charter was representing at the time and stayed in contact, according to Williams. “With our roots in Grand Rapids and our contacts across the country, we’re working on projects all over the U.S.,” he said.

Charter Capital formed the contract furniture practice in 2013, announcing it at that year’s NeoCon. Since then, the firm has worked on deals involving all three levels of the industry, including OEMs, suppliers and distributors. The company represented Interphase Interiors, Sauder Manufacturing, The Worden Co., and Bold Furniture on recent transactions. more

Weller Equity Partners Acquires KFI Seating

August 22, 2016 - PR Newswire

Weller Equity Partners (Weller), a Louisville, KY-based private equity firm, today announced that it has acquired KFI Seating (KFI), a Louisville, KY-based leading supplier of business and institutional furniture products. The acquisition closed on July 29, 2016.

"We have been looking for an experienced partner to help us replace a retiring co-owner and key executive, while keeping our sights fixed on the continued growth and development of our business," said Chris Smith, president of KFI. "We feel very comfortable with our new partnership with the Weller team, especially considering we are both based in Kentucky," added KFI Chief Operating Officer Scott Williamson.

According to Ken Berryman, managing partner of Weller, "The KFI transaction is a classic fit for Weller as we look to partner with existing management teams to provide liquidity for shareholders, capital for growth, and organizational development to help businesses achieve their full potential."

KFI was represented by Charter Capital Partners, with Andrew Williams, director, leading the transaction advisory team. "A key component of the transaction's success was making sure everyone's interests were aligned," commented Williams. "The transaction was designed so that each co-owner of KFI was able to achieve their financial and personal goals, while providing the company with a strategic partner to propel future growth. It was a win-win for all parties."

Additional advisors to Weller included Frost Brown Todd (legal) and BKD (financial). more

Louisville equity firm acquires local furniture company

August 22, 2016 - Louisville Business First

Weller Equity Partners, a Louisville-based private equity firm, has acquired the Louisville-based furniture supplier KFI Seating. The acquisition closed July 29. Weller Equity invests in lower middle-market companies ($5 million to $50 million in revenue) in the Mid-South region of the U.S. The firm provides funding structures and private equity expertise to a company's owners, particularly in the manufacturing, health care, information technology and food and beverage industries.

"We have been looking for an experienced partner to help us replace a retiring co-owner and key executive, while keeping our sights fixed on the continued growth and development of our business," Chris Smith, the president of KFI, said in a press release.  Scott Williamson, the chief operating officer at KFI, said that he is comfortable with the partnership with Weller, because both companies are based in Louisville.

"The KFI transaction is a classic fit for Weller as we look to partner with existing management teams to provide liquidity for shareholders, capital for growth and organizational development to help businesses achieve their full potential," Ken Berryman, the managing partner at Weller Equity, said in a press release.

The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. KFI was represented by Charter Capital Partners, with director Andrew Williams leading the advisory team. more

Lawsuit questions legality of Herman Miller's Acquisition of Design Within Reach

June 10, 2016 - MiBiz

Herman Miller Inc.’s highly praised $154 million acquisition in 2014 of high-end furniture retailer Design Within Reach Inc. may not legally have occurred. That’s according to a pair of former Design Within Reach (DWR) shareholders who filed a lawsuit in December 2014 against the company’s current and former owners. The lawsuit alleges the company violated Delaware law in how it executed a 1-for-50 reverse stock split, a move that predated its acquisition by Herman Miller.

While plaintiffs Andrew Franklin and Charles Almond name Herman Miller in the lawsuit, the pair appear to be using the office furniture manufacturer as leverage to put pressure on the former majority shareholders of DWR, according to a lawyer who spoke to MiBiz and asked not to be named in this report. The lawyer described the lawsuit as an “unusually messy situation.” For one, if the reverse stock split did not occur from a legal standpoint, it means Herman Miller purchased far fewer shares than was required to complete the 2014 acquisition of DWR under Delaware law, making the transaction null, according to multiple sources.

High-profile acquisitions can often bring about lawsuits from unhappy shareholders, but this deal appears to have some unique characteristics, said Christine Baker, managing director of business valuation services at Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners. “I’ve heard of dissenting shareholder suits not infrequently,” Baker said. “But someone asserting that the deal never actually closed is a new one to us, especially for companies that have to report so much in a public way. That’s kind of stunning.” more

Firm raises $5M venture capital fund

June 3, 2016 - Grand Rapids Business Journal

A local investment banking firm has raised a $5-million venture capital fund to continue investing in Michigan companies. Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners, an investment banking and capital management firm, said today that it has closed its MAF Opportunity Fund, which the firm designed to invest in companies already backed its predecessor fund, the Michigan Accelerator Fund I.

The new $5-million fund was oversubscribed with commitments from institutional, family office and individual investors. “The fact that the fund was oversubscribed in seven weeks indicates that investors support our vision and the investment thesis of early stage investing in Michigan-based companies,” Charter Capital Partners Managing Director Dale Grogan said. “We have seen tremendous investment opportunities over the past five years and fully expect that this trend will continue as realizations occur.”

The fund is managed by Charter managing directors Grogan and John Kerschen, along with Brian Hamilton, senior venture capital associate. “As our portfolio companies mature, they have continued capital needs,” Kerschen said. “Like many smaller, early stage venture funds, we were nearly fully deployed and had limited ability to continue investing in the portfolio, hence the development of the MAF Opportunity Fund.” more

New $5 million fund to continue investment in Michigan Accelerator Fund companies

June 3, 2016 - MiBiz 

A new venture capital fund in Grand Rapids that will do tack-on deals for existing portfolio companies of Michigan Accelerator Fund I closed this week after raising $5 million from investors. MAF Opportunity Fund was oversubscribed and secured commitments from backers that include institutional and individual investors as well as family offices. The fund will make follow-on investments to support companies that are already backed by Michigan Accelerator Fund I and need later-stage funding, as MiBiz exclusively reported last month.

“Over the past five years, we believe that we have built a strong portfolio within the Michigan Accelerator Fund, with several companies demonstrating excellent progress towards value accretion and a near-term exit,” Co-managing Director John Kerschen said in a statement. “As our portfolio companies mature, they have continued capital needs. Like many smaller, early-stage venture funds, we were nearly fully deployed and had limited ability to continue investing in the portfolio. Hence the development of the MAF Opportunity Fund.” more

Michigan Accelerator Fund closes opportunity fund, oversubscribed

June 3, 2016 - Michigan Venture Capital Association

Charter Capital Partners, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based investment banking and capital management firm, today announced the closing of the MAF Opportunity Fund. The $5 million fund was over-subscribed with investment commitments coming from institutional, family office, and individual investors. The Fund was organized to invest in elite companies from its predecessor fund, Michigan Accelerator Fund I.

John Kerschen and Dale Grogan, both managing directors of Charter Capital Partners, also serve as managing directors of the Michigan Accelerator Fund I and the MAF Opportunity Fund. The management team is rounded out by Brian Hamilton, Senior Venture Capital Associatemore

ADDITIONAL