Rermag 499 Samson Maxim 1

No Limit to Our Appetite

Aug. 14, 2009
In the second of a two-part series on the growth plans of Maxim Crane Works, RER speaks with Louis Samson, principal of Platinum Equity, which acquired Maxim in May, 2008.

What kind of acquisition plans do you have for Maximacquisitions of fleets, acquisitions of companies?

I think we’ll look at both. Originally we had in mind more traditional acquisition of companies, but I think the market conditions are such that fleet acquisitions or parts of fleet acquisitions may well make sense for sellers and may make sense for us if it’s in the right asset class. So we’re actively pursuing both. Our ambitions are to be a consolidator, we’re not going to buy just to buy, but if we see something we like we’re going to buy. There’s no limit to our appetite. We’re typically No. 1 or No. 2 in the markets we serve. It’s a very fragmented industry.

How do you view the current business environment for crane rental and how do you see it evolving over the next few years?

It’s softer than it once was, there’s no question about it. There are still some good pockets of business, there is infrastructure spending on the come that will make end markets be attractive. If nuclear energy really becomes something, there will be a lot of business out of it, the wind business is providing business, energy in general is a good part of the sector whether it be power plants or refineries or chemical plants. Turnaround type business is there. Things are a lot softer than they were, and that favors the bigger, well-capitalized companies like ours. I suspect there will be some degree of shakeout, I think the winds we are facing are that strong. At the end of the day, you know end markets we are serving are going to be healthy again, they have reasons to be healthy again. When they are it’s probably going to be pretty good.

How did Platinum get into crane rental space?

It was a platform. We like the rental space, we like the asset intensity, we certainly like the crane space and Maxim in our opinion is the best company in the space, it certainly has the best management team around. When an opportunity came to buy the company, we didn’t think about it twice.

Any ballpark figure on how much Platinum might invest to grow Maxim Crane?

We don’t have a set number, but we comfortably will invest in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Do you plan to expand the geographic footprint into certain areas?

We are looking to expand the geographic footprint, but it’s not the primary driver. The primary driver is to make good acquisitions. If expanding the geographic footprint comes along with one of those then great. If it’s in a market we’re already in and we’re firming up our grip, that’s ok too. That’s how we look at it; it’s really on a case-by-case basis.