Sterling Sells Safe Fleet to Oak Hill

The Sterling Group has sold Safe Fleet to Oak Hill Capital Partners. The buy of Safe Fleet is the seventh investment made by Oak Hill’s most recent fund, Oak Hill Capital Partners IV LP, which closed in July 2017 with $2.65 billion of capital.

Safe Fleet was formed in October 2013 when Sterling acquired both R•O•M Corporation and Specialty Manufacturing from Century Park Capital Partners. Today, Safe Fleet provides a wide range of safety products for fleet vehicles in the emergency services, bus and rail, recreational vehicle, law enforcement, truck and trailer, work truck, industrial and military markets.

The company has approximately 1,100 employees and 10 manufacturing locations. Safe Fleet, led by CEO John Knox, is headquartered south of Kansas City in Belton, MO (www.safefleet.net).

During Sterling’s term of ownership, the firm completed ten add-on acquisitions for Safe Fleet. “The creation and sale of Safe Fleet, a business that didn’t exist before Sterling’s initial acquisitions, is a case study in how Sterling rapidly implements its strategic, operational and commercial improvement strategies to build winning businesses in the industrial sector,” said Gary Rosenthal, Partner at The Sterling Group.  The last add-on for Safe Fleet was the November 2017 buy of MobileView from Interlogix, a unit of United Technologies. MobileView is a provider of mobile surveillance and video management services to more than 35,000 transit, bus and rail vehicles in the United States.

“We have tremendous respect for what Safe Fleet has accomplished. The company has built a unique and growing portfolio of market-leading safety and productivity solutions,” said Brian Cherry, a Partner at Oak Hill. “We are excited to partner with Safe Fleet to support the company through its next phase of development, as it continues to grow both organically and through strategic acquisitions.”

Oak Hill Capital Partners invests from $100 million to $300 million of equity in companies active in the consumer, retail & distribution; industrials; media & communications; and services sectors. The firm, which began its investment activities in 1986 as the family office of Robert M. Bass, has offices in New York, Menlo Park and Stamford, CT (www.oakhillcapital.com).

“Safe Fleet represents an exceptional opportunity to invest in a leader in specialized, niche markets supported by attractive secular tailwinds. We are delighted to work with the company’s talented management team to continue to build the Safe Fleet platform,” said John Rachwalski, a Partner at Oak Hill.

The Sterling Group, the seller of Safe Fleet, invests in manufacturing, industrial services and distribution companies that have enterprise values from $100 million to $750 million.  The firm emphasizes an operational approach in partnership with management teams to grow and improve the companies it acquires.  Sterling was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Houston (www.sterling-group.com).

Goldman Sachs Bank USA, UBS Securities, and Morgan Stanley Senior Funding have underwritten and will arrange first and second lien financing in connection with this transaction which is expected to close during the first quarter of 2018.

Morgan Stanley & Co. and Harris Williams & Co. were the financial advisors to Safe Fleet. UBS was the financial advisor to Oak Hill.

© 2018 Private Equity Professional | February 5, 2018

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