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Grand Rapids-based Auxo Investment Partners acquired New Orleans-based M/G Transport Services, a barge transportation company. Grand Rapids-based Auxo Investment Partners acquired New Orleans-based M/G Transport Services, a barge transportation company. COURTESY PHOTO

PE firm Auxo Investment Partners acquires New Orleans barge company

BY Wednesday, December 06, 2017 09:10am

GRAND RAPIDS — West Michigan private equity firm Auxo Investment Partners has moved into the transport business with the acquisition of a New Orleans-based barge company.

Auxo Investment Partners closed just before Thanksgiving on the acquisition of M/G Transport Services, which operates a fleet of 250 barges in a market that runs from Houston, Texas, to Mobile, Ala., and from the mouth of the Mississippi River up to Baton Rouge, La.

In the 50-year-old M/G Transport, the Grand Rapids-based Auxo adds to its portfolio a 50-year-old company that dominates its market and generates strong cash flow to reinvest into the business, said Managing Partner Jeff Helminski. Auxo sees “strong potential” for M/G Transport’s fleet.

“Big, heavy things still need to get moved around from place to place, and water-borne transportation is the most cost-effective and often times environmentally the best way to do it,” Helminski said.

M/G Transport serves the oil and gas, agriculture, and chemical processing industries. The management team and employees will remain with the company.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

“We’ve been extremely impressed by the credentials and collaborative approach of the veteran investors and business operators who founded Auxo, and it will be a great fit for our company and a seamless transition for our customers and our staff,” M/G Transport CEO Jack Lordo said in an announcement of the deal issued today.

The acquisition is the third for Auxo, which launched earlier this year. The firm in September acquired Atlas Die LLC of Elkhart, Ind. and Bernal LLC, based in Rochester Hills, north of Detroit.

An investor in the private equity firm brought the deal for M/G Transport to Auxo, Helminski said. The barge company fits “right of the middle of our strategy,” he said.

“This is the industrial services side of the portfolio that we’re building, versus the kind of specialty manufacturers, which the first set of deals was,” Helminski said.

Founded by Helminski, Fred Tedori and Jack Kolodny, Auxo invests in middle-market North American companies in manufacturing, value-added distribution, business services and other industries with EBITDA between $1.5 million and $15 million.

Acquiring a company based New Orleans demonstrates the national scope of Auxo, Helminski said.

“It’s important for us and how we approach the market and how the market views us, to see that we’re not doing deals just in Michigan and the Midwest but really across the country,” he said.

Advisors on the deal included Miller Johnson Snell & Cummiskey PLC, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, BDO, PNC Bank, Aon, Advantage Benefits, Krauter and Co., and RBC Capital Markets.

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