Audax Builds Protective Gear Platform

Protective Industrial Products, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, has agreed to acquire West Chester Protective Gear. Audax acquired Protective Industrial Products in partnership with the company’s founding Milot and Tao families in February 2018.

West Chester provides industrial hand protection products along with a protective apparel line including high visibility clothing, disposable clothing, aprons and sleeves, rainwear, and welding apparel.

West Chester, led by CEO Tim Fogarty, was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Cincinnati (www.westchestergear.com).

Protective Industrial Products (PIP) is a provider of hand protection products and other consumable personal protective equipment (PPE). The company’s products, which total more than 3500 SKUs, include hand and arm, eye, head, hearing, body, and respiratory protection and are sold under an array of brand names including G-tek, Bouton Optical, Safety Works, Ambi-dex, Assurance, Falcon, Kut-Gard, and Maximum Safety. PIP’s hand protection products include chemical-protective gloves, cut-resistant gloves, mechanics’ gloves, cleanroom gloves, food-service handling gloves, and gloves to protect against heat and cold. PIP has more than 300 employees and more than $265 million in annual sales.

PIP has multiple manufacturing and distribution facilities in the US (totaling 500,000 sq. ft.) and additional capabilities in Canada, Mexico, France, Spain, and China. The company was founded in 1984 and is led by CEO Joe Milot and is headquartered in Latham, NY (www.pipglobal.com).

The buy of West Chester solidifies PIP’s position among the leading providers of hand protection and general safety products in North America. “We are elated by this partnership,” said Mr. Milot. “West Chester has always been a highly respected competitor and over the years their executive and sales teams have built an excellent business model that complements ours at PIP beautifully. Their highly experienced tenured sales team is knowledgeable and responsive, providing innovative solutions that fit customer needs. West Chester’s state of the art facility in Cincinnati will remain an operational hub of the organization.”

Audax makes control investments of $10 million to $100 million in middle market companies with transaction values of $25 million to $500 million. Sectors of interest include industrial manufacturing; energy; outsourced industrial services; consumer products; healthcare devices and services; non-asset based logistics; technology; aerospace & defense; business services; and direct marketing. Since founding in 1999, Audax has invested $5 billion in 118 platforms and 716 add-on companies. The firm has offices in Boston, New York and San Francisco (www.audaxgroup.com).

Lincoln International (www.lincolninternational.com) was the financial advisor to West Chester on this transaction.

© 2019 Private Equity Professional | February 11, 2019

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