Wellspring’s New Platform Builds Platforms

Wellspring Capital has acquired Steele Solutions, a supplier of structural steel systems used in distribution, fulfillment, and sortation centers.

Steele Solutions (SSI) designs and fabricates superstructures, mezzanines, elevated work platforms, equipment platforms, stair towers, catwalks, and crossovers. The company’s freestanding and column-supported mezzanines, located in all 50 states and throughout the world, are used to support distribution center conveyor systems, storage systems, and elevated office requirements.

SSI with 250 employees, led by co-owners Mike Thelen, chairman of the board; Kevin O’Neill, chief executive officer; and Terry Young, vice president-engineering, was founded in 1996 and has a 300,000 sq. ft. facility and headquarters located southwest of Milwaukee in Franklin, Wisconsin.

“We are very pleased to welcome Wellspring as a partner,” said Mr. O’Neill. “We are deeply proud of the reputation and customer relationships SSI has built over the prior decades, and we thank all our employees and partners for the incredible efforts and support up to this point. With Wellspring’s experience and committed capital backing, I believe that SSI is as well-positioned as ever to capitalize on the exciting market opportunity that lies ahead of us.”

“We are thrilled to be able to support Steele Solutions in its next phase of growth,” said John Morningstar, a managing partner at Wellspring. “Kevin O’Neill, Mike Thelen, and the rest of the SSI team have built an impressive business over the last 25 years, rooted in strong customer relationships and attractive end-markets that have allowed the company to consistently excel, even through uncertain economic periods like the current one. We congratulate the entire team on their accomplishments to date and look forward to a great partnership.”

New York City-based Wellspring was founded in 1995 and has raised more than $4 billion of capital through six private equity funds. Its latest fund, Wellspring Capital Partners VI LP, closed at its hard cap of $1.4 billion in January 2018.

“SSI represents an exciting opportunity to partner with a proven market leader in an attractive niche of the industrial automation sector,” said Seth Pearson, a partner at Wellspring. “The projects and customers SSI serves are at the heart of well-documented and long-term trends towards e-commerce and automation.”

Baird was the financial advisor to Steele Solutions on this transaction and Godfrey & Kahn provided legal services.

Private Equity Professional | June 12, 2020

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