SFW Acquires Another Scientific Instruments Maker

SFW Capital Partners has acquired Pion, a developer and manufacturer of instrumentation used for compound testing in pharmaceutical research and development.

Pion is headquartered north of Boston in Billerica, Massachusetts and was founded in 1996 with Mike and Sharon Kelly acquiring the business in 2011. In June 2020, Pion sold its field services division – which repaired, maintained, and validated laboratory instrumentation – to Full Spectrum Group, a portfolio company of Pfingsten Partners. The Kelly’s are reinvesting in the SFW transaction and will retain an ownership interest in the company.

“Having begun our story with Pion nearly a decade ago, Sharon and I were looking for a specialized investment partner that would help realize Pion’s potential and allow us to take a step back from our day-to-day management of the company,” said Mr. Kelly. “SFW immediately differentiated themselves from other potential investors through their long history of success with companies like ours and their growth-oriented investment strategy.”

SFW has led several investments in family and founder-owned businesses in the industrial and healthcare technology sectors, including Granite River Labs, a California-based provider of test and certification services, earlier this month; Caron Products & Services, an Ohio-based provider of laboratory equipment, in December 2020; and Micromeritics Instrument, a Georgia-based provider of analytical instrumentation, in December 2019.

At the closing of SFW’s buy of Pion, the company announced that Brian Dutko would become the company’s new CEO with Mr. Kelly becoming Pion’s chairman.

Mr. Dutko has spent his entire career in the life sciences industry and is the past president of Massachusetts-based Malvern Instruments, a provider of scientific instrumentation used in the chemical, physical and structural analysis of materials. Mr. Dutko was with Malvern Instruments from 1993 to 2017. Over the past two years, he was part of the senior management team of UK-based Oxford Instruments and led the company’s Americas operations.

“I am excited to become Pion’s new CEO, partner with Mike and Sharon Kelly and SFW, and carry on the company’s legacy of excellence and culture of outperformance,” said Mr. Dutko. “The company’s proprietary technology and unrivaled expertise in formulation development make it an excellent starting point to build a more substantial platform.”

“Pion’s high-value products, proprietary technology, deep customer relationships, and significant opportunities for growth make it an obvious fit with SFW’s investment philosophy,” said Ahmad Sheikh, a partner at SFW. “We are pleased to partner with Mike, Sharon and the Pion management team and look forward to building on the solid foundation that they have created.”

SFW invests exclusively in information, software, industrial and healthcare technology companies. The firm typically invests from $25 million to $200 million of equity in companies that have revenues from $10 million to $500 million. SFW was founded by Roger Freeman and Thomas Salice and is headquartered in Rye, New York.

© 2021 Private Equity Professional | May 21, 2021

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