Blackthorne Acquires Fireplace Door Maker

Blackthorne Acquires Fireplace Door Maker

design specialtities nf1Design Specialties, a maker of fireplace doors and screens, has been acquired by Blackthorne Partners in partnership with investor and operator Michael Draves.  The company was sold to the investment group by owner Pat Gengler.

Design Specialties’ products range from lower price doors to one-of-a-kind doors handcrafted by artists.  Products are available in a variety of door styles, glass designs and finishes. The company’s products are sold at specialty hearth retailers throughout the US and Canada. Design Specialties maintains a 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Milwaukee which houses its laser cutting, powder coating, and headquarters operations.  Design Specialties was founded in 1983 (

“I was very selective in choosing the new ownership,” said Mr. Gengler.  “I wanted an ownership group who was entrepreneurial, had the owner/operator mentality, had capital to invest and was customer-focused. I wanted someone who understood our culture and our tradition of excellence. I found everything I was looking for with Mike Draves and Blackthorne Partners.”

michael draves nf1Mr. Draves, who is now the company’s new President, has wide experience in the consumer products industry. He has held senior positions with Ariens, Sears, Pacific Cycle and Kohler.  “Design Specialties is known throughout the country for its high quality fireplace doors and accessories,” said Mr. Draves.  “Along with strong name recognition among consumers, the company has a strong and loyal dealer network which we will continue to support. I’m looking forward to working with the company’s talented staff to enhance our operations so we remain the market leader known for quality and innovation.”

Steve Balistreri nf1“Pat Gengler has done a tremendous job growing this company and positioning it as a market leader,” said Steve Balistreri, a Blackthorne Partners managing director. “Our goal is to build upon that success so Design Specialties remains the premier fireplace door company in North America for the long term.”

Blackthorne Partners invests in companies based in the upper Midwest that have $4 million to $15 million in revenues and EBITDA of at least $1 million. Sectors of interest include outsourced business services, light manufacturing, and value-added distribution. Blackthorne Partners is headquartered near Milwaukee in Brookfield, WI (

© 2015 PEPD • Private Equity’s Leading News Magazine • 4-1-15

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