Swiss conglomerate Walter Meier AG has agreed to sell the subsidiary that produces and markets Jet, Powermatic, and Wilton tools. The buyer is Tenex Capital Management, a New York based private equity firm.
The tool companies are part of Walter Meier Manufacturing, which is headquartered in La Vergne, Tenn., about 60 miles from Powermatic's original home in McMinnville, Tenn. Jet was acquired in 1988 and Powermatic in 1999. Wilton, which produces hand tools, vises, and BASH sledge hammers, was acquired in 2002.
Speaking to a reporter from the Tennessean, tool company executive Bob Varzino describes the sale as being very good news for the division being sold. "It was some time in the coming," he said. "This company has been growing and has become a very profitable division for Walter Meier. This will capitalize the company so it can grow to its next level of evolution. Tenex focuses on industrial brands and will be a really good partner for us. This is its biggest acquisition."
This is not Tenex's first foray into the tool world. Last year the company acquired woodworking tooling company NAP Gladu and Techniks—which later purchased BC Saw and Tool.
Based on past sales of this kind (Apex and Knaack being two recent examples), I would not expect to see any immediate changes in the day-to-day operation or focus of Jet, Powermatic, and Wilton. Private equity firms do not buy companies to run them themselves; they do it to make money through current operations or by breaking the company up and selling off the pieces. Having recently purchased other brands in the industrial tool space, Tenex appears to be doing the former by assembling a group of complementary companies.