American Holt Corporation is a technology-enabled provider of high-quality aftermarket replacement parts for production and processing machinery used in several high-throughput manufacturing environments. It specializes in parts supporting the food and beverage, paper converting, material handling, and warehousing manufacturing processes among other high-usage sectors. Last December, Arcline Investment Management, a growth-oriented private equity firm, announced that it had acquired a controlling stake in American Holt Corporation from Founder and CEO Jon Levy. The existing management team, with Arcline’s support, will continue to lead American Holt through its next phase of growth. Gennari Aronson served as counsel to American Holt in the transaction.
What motivated you to consider a transaction after so many successful years as an independent company?
American Holt experienced twenty-five years of consistent growth without ever having a budget or a forecast. We combined great quality with great service and we kept growing to the point where we needed more structure, so I started looking for the right partner to get us to the next step.
What was the process like?
You may want to run away! The process was exhausting. I solicited advice from trusted advisors and was informed that I need a great accountant, lawyer and investment banker, and they all have to get along. I had the accountant already. I interviewed nine bankers, and Leo Whitt at Baird quickly rose to the top. Choosing a lawyer turned out to be an easy choice. Two of my trusted advisers recommended Gennari Aronson, so I called my accountant to get his thoughts. He suggested I use Gennari Aronson as well. That was the easiest part of the process. The actual process took ten long months. Be prepared to work twice as hard as you ever have. Having the right people to guide you through the process is critical.
What advice would you give to anyone who might be fielding calls from potential buyers and otherwise considering a similar path?
Thinking “I’m a successful businessman, I can do this myself.” There is a temptation to try this on your own, don’t do it. If you are contemplating the sale of your largest asset, hire good people. Looking back on the process I can say that my lawyer, banker and accountant made this process much easier.