Blackford Capital, a leading lower middle market private equity firm, this week announced its successful exit from its investment in Grand Equipment Co., through a sale to Cognitive Capital Partners LLC, a Chicago-based investment firm.
Grand Equipment is a multi-line equipment dealer offering the sale and rental of a wide range of heavy construction equipment, both new and used, and provides parts and service to a diverse, resilient customer base, primarily in greater Grand Rapids and the broader Western Michigan market.
Blackford Capital acquired GEC, led by founder and CEO Jeff Grasman, through its Michigan Prosperity Fund in 2015. During its time as a Blackford Capital portfolio company, Grand Equipment made investments in its management team, improved its equipment mix and its rental fleet, strengthened relationships with customers and OEMs, and used the resulting growth to improve the balance sheet.
"Grand Equipment is excited to continue our growth trajectory in West Michigan with this transition from Blackford Capital to Cognitive Capital Partners," said Jeff Grasman, Grand Equipment CEO. "We successfully partnered with the Blackford team to grow the organization and look forward to a future of additional regional growth, deepened market share and an increased footprint."
Today, with the construction industry projected to grow 8.8 percent 2022 to reach $1.35 trillion and $1.65 trillion by 2026, the opportunities for Grand Equipment to accelerate growth and market expansion are significant.
"Our investment thesis is rooted in a commitment to buy at a fair value, operate effectively, focus on top-line growth, and professionalize organizations overall – setting them up for their next stage of growth," said Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital. "Although we faced several challenges along the way – not the least of which was the market downturn driven by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – ultimately our work with Jeff and the Grand Equipment team has delivered a positive return to our investors. Cognitive Capital will be a strong partner for Grand Equipment to deliver steady growth across short, medium and long-term perspectives."
Investing and operating expertise
Chicago-based Cognitive is focused on investing in leading companies in technical and business services, and manufacturing and industrial products and services. Its unique blend of investing and operating expertise is well-suited to support Grand Equipment management and drive continued growth and value creation.
Founded in 2000, Grand Equipment Co. is a full-service equipment distributor based in Hudsonville, Mich. Grand Equipment has grown into one of the largest multi-line construction equipment, parts, service, sales and rental dealers in Michigan. Learn more online at https://www.grandequipment.com/.
Founded in 2010, Blackford Capital is a private equity investment firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich. Blackford acquires, manages, and builds founder and family-owned, lower middle-market companies, with a focus on the manufacturing, industrial and distribution industries. Blackford was named the Private Equity Firm of the Year by M&A Advisor in 2021 and 2018. The firm has also received Deal of the Year honors from M&A Advisor in multiple categories, and its portfolio companies have also been included on the Inc. 5000. For more information, visit www.blackfordcapital.com.