The dog days of August were anything but sleepy for announcements by private equity firms buying into industrial products distributors in the U.S. Less than a year and a half after Genuine Parts combined its EIS unit into Motion Industries as its Electrical Specialties Group, the parent company sold EIS to Audax Private Equity. Audax has a solid history in industrial distribution, including its acquisition in 2007 of fabricated rubber products distributor LewisGoetz, which then expanded rapidly through nine acquisitions nationally for four years before it was sold to ERIKS in 2011.
Private equity firm Littlejohn & Co. in August completed its acquisition of Kaman Corporation’s distribution segment for $700 million. It’s not Littlejohn’s first foray into this sector. Littlejohn previously had owned and expanded SunSource from 2011 to 2017, when it sold the fluid power and process controls distributor to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which has subsequently accelerated its buildout of the SunSource platform with its acquisitions in 2018 of Ryan Herco Flow Solutions and The United Distribution Group.
The other major private-equity deal of August was the news that aerospace distributor Wesco Aircraft Holdings Inc. (NYSE: WAIR), Valencia, California, has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Platinum Equity in a transaction valued at $1.9 billion.