COOKEVILLE – A Cookeville-based sign company is now under new ownership – and local officials said the deal would mean growth for local and nationwide operations.
Identity Group LLC, a manufacturer and supplier of corporate, small business and personal identity products, was sold in May to a trio of private equity firms, Ancor Capital Partners and Merit Capital Partners and PNC Mezzanine Capital.
Namely, company officials said, the acquisition will mean more jobs for Identity Group’s local operations. The manufacturing facility on Gould Drive is only at 40 percent capacity, Lee Brantley, vice president of HR at Identity Group, told the UCBJ. In addition, since the Cookeville office handles the majority of human resource operations, any new hires companywide could also benefit that site.
“That manufacturing facility is the largest manufacturing area we have – we have lots of room for growth,” Brantley said. “The intent right now is to double or triple the size of that office in the next few years, and that will be done organically and through aggressive growth strategies” namely of competitors in market niches such as health care and hospitality, he added.
Management team to stay
Historically, Identity Group has been owned by private equity firms. Its last partner, Saw Mill Capital Partners, came on board in 2008, but Brantley said they exited in February 2012, leaving the company’s ownership to its primary lender, a bank.
Brantley said they consequently went through a 14-15 month reorganization; among the highlights, putting in place a new board and promoting Brad Wolf to president. Discussions had been ongoing with Ancor for about nine months before the deal was announced. Financials were not disclosed.
“Prior to that we did town hall meetings (with employees) and made it clear what our direction was going forward,” Brantley said. “This was absolutely a positive thing for Identity Group.”
Ancor will retain the current Identity Group management team, which also includes Brian Mogensen, CFO; Warren Soltis, vice president of IT; and David Durfee, vice president of operations.
“Identity Group has a strong management team, and we’re excited to partner with them,” Ancor Capital Managing Partner Raymond Kingsbury said in a release. “Together, we can allow the company to execute on its plan to be the dominant leader in the industry.”
Identity Group, formerly known as Porelon, got its start in Racine, Wis., as a division of S.C. Johnson Wax Company. The company relocated to Cookeville in 1974, and today offers a broad range of products including marking devices such as pre-inked and self-inking stamps, ink rolls, ribbons and industrial ink products; business stationery products such as business cards, letterhead and envelopes; page flags; promotional and ad specialty items; and a variety of custom, interior signage products including dimensional, illuminated, dynamic and architectural signs.
It employs 418 nationally and 237 in Cookeville. Identity Group has more than 200,000 square feet of manufacturing operations in Cookeville; Wichita, Kan.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Utica, N.Y., as well as sales and marketing offices in Nashville; Danville, Ky.; and Sarasota, Fla.
“The ability to team with an equity sponsor such as Ancor and their partners, including Merit and PNC, brings new life into our company and positions us on a strong platform on which we can drive growth,” Wolf said. “Our management team has reinvested in the business along with Ancor, and we are excited to be a part of such a vibrant group.”
“Everyone here is extremely positive,” Brantley added. “We’ve been in a status quo position for years; we survived the economy downturn, the distress of 2011 and the loss of our equity partner, and we still have a heck of a story to tell.”