Tailwind Corners the Trench Safety Market

National Trench Safety has agreed to merge with Trench Plate Rental Company, a portfolio company of Tailwind Capital.

Trench Plate Rental (TPR) is a provider of trench safety equipment and services used by utilities and contractors during underground construction and other infrastructure projects. Tailwind acquired TPR in 2020 from Oaktree Capital Management.

TPR’s products include slide rail systems, trench boxes and plates, aluminum shores, and traffic control equipment. The company serves more than 9,000 customers through a national network of 37 branch locations across 11 states. TPR, led by CEO Phil Mason, was founded in 1979 and is headquartered south of Los Angeles in Artesia, California.

National Trench Safety (NTS) provides similar products and services as TPR and operates an international network of 33 US-based and 2 UK-based branches. NTS, founded in 2003, is led by CEO Ronald Chilton and is headquartered in Houston.

The combination of TPR and NTS creates the largest rental supplier of shoring, trenching, and traffic control equipment in the US and will be majority-owned by Tailwind Capital. The combined company will operate under the National Trench Safety brand and will be led by Mr. Mason.

“I look forward to joining forces with National Trench Safety, as we bring together our complementary businesses to drive unmatched customer service and continued growth,” said Mr. Mason. “The merger will allow the combined company to better serve our customers on a national scale with an enhanced fleet, improved service capabilities, and expanded footprint.”

“Over the last 18 years, Ron Chilton has built a nationally-renowned trench safety solutions platform with a stellar reputation,” said Bruce Dressel, the chairman of TPR and an operating executive at Tailwind. “We are pleased to partner with the NTS team and look forward to driving long-term sustainable growth via new greenfields and additional M&A.”

Mr. Dressel joined Tailwind in 2020 and became the chairman of TPR in January 2021. He is the past chief operating officer of publicly traded construction equipment provider Herc Rentals (NYSE: HRI) and the past chief executive officer of tooling and equipment provider Sunbelt Rentals, a subsidiary of Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT).

According to a source familiar with this transaction, MidCap Financial was the administrative agent, joint lead arranger, joint lead bookrunner and collateral agent for a $204 million senior secured credit facility to back the merger of TPR and NTS.

The MidCap transaction team was led by Managing Director Melissa Morrison. MidCap, in alliance with its investment manager Apollo Capital Management, is a middle-market focused finance firm that provides debt instruments of $10 million to $750 million to companies across all industries.

New York-based Tailwind invests from $25 million to $100 million of equity in middle-market companies that have enterprise values of up to $300 million and EBITDA from $10 million to $30 million. Sectors of interest include healthcare, business services, and industrial services.

In September 2018, Tailwind held an above-target and oversubscribed final closing of Tailwind Capital Partners III LP with $1.8 billion of capital. Since its founding in 2003, Tailwind has invested in 46 portfolio companies and completed over 125 add-on acquisitions.

© 2021 Private Equity Professional | April 15, 2021

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