Published in Economic Development

MiBiz Growth Report: Feb. 2, 2020

BY MIBIZ STAFF Sunday, February 02, 2020 10:00am

This is the growth report for Feb. 2, 2020.


  • Easy Ice LLC, a Marquette-based commercial ice machine rental and servicing company, has been acquired by private equity firm Freeman Spogli & Co. of Los Angeles, Calif. Co-founders Mark Hangen and John Mahlmeister and the Easy Ice management team will continue to operate the company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Easy Ice was advised in the deal by Los Angeles-based FocalPoint Securities LLC and Austin, Texas-based law firm Queen, Saenz + Schutz PLLC. Varagon Capital Partners and Madison Capital provided debt financing. Freeman Spogli was advised by Philadelphia, Pa.-based Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP. Previously, Easy Ice was a portfolio company of New York-based Saratoga Investment Corp., which invested in the company in 2014 and recapitalized it in 2017.
  • Lowell-based eMotion Controls Co., an automation controls system integrator and software company, was acquired by Mt. Washington, Ky.-based Material Handling Systems Inc., a provider of automation systems to the material handling industry. As part of the deal, eMotion Controls will become part of the Lifecycle Performance Services unit at Material Handling Systems. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Material Handling Systems was advised on the deal by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
  • Grand Haven-based Light Corp. has acquired Most Modest, a lifestyle and accessory brand based in Stockton, Calif. The deal adds products that will help Light Corp. better compete with the increasingly residential design trends in the contract furniture industry, according to a statement. Light Corp. President Marc Langeland said the acquisition poses “a major growth opportunity” for the company as it looks to break into the residential and direct-to-consumer market. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 
  • Wayne, Pa.-based private equity firm Guardian Capital Partners has partnered with the executive management team at Belding-based Flat River Group LLC to acquire the company. Flat River Group, an e-commerce products distributor, offers product sourcing, inventory management and high volume direct-to-consumer drop-shipping. Flat River Group’s financial adviser was Houston-based Gulfstar Group, while Cleveland-based Jones Day acted as legal adviser. Guardian was advised on the deal by the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP of Philadelphia. CIBC Bank USA provided senior financing in the acquisition, while Centerfield Capital Partners provided additional financing and minority equity.
  • Atwater Brewery, a Detroit-based brewery with a satellite taproom in Grand Rapids, has been acquired by Chicago-based Molson Coors Beverage Co. (NYSE: TAP). As part of the deal, Atwater will join Tenth and Blake Beer Co. division of Molson Coors, which owns and operates a range of craft breweries across the country. Terms of the deal, which requires various regulatory approvals, were not disclosed. Atwater was advised on the deal by Arlington Capital Advisors.
  • Parchment-based Advia Credit Union will pick up nearly 3,500 members with the planned merger involving a small credit union in Southeastern Michigan. The deal between Advia Credit Union and Riverview Community Credit Union in Saint Clair could close in the second quarter. The deal is pending approvals from regulators and Riverview Community members, who will vote on the proposal this month. Riverview Community Credit Union has a single office in Saint Clair with 3,479 members and $30.3 million in total assets as of Sept. 30, 2019, according to its most recent quarterly financial report to federal regulators.


  • Cologne, Germany-based TÜV Rheinland Group plans to open a new 3,000-square-foot furniture testing facility at 3650 Broadmoor Ave. in Kentwood. The company, which offers testing, inspection and certification services, made the “strategic decision” to locate the facility in West Michigan because of the proximity to the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association. TÜV Rheinland expects to open the testing lab on March 5. 
  • Shelby-based Peterson Farms Inc., a family-owned fruit processor, is investing $22 million in an expansion it expects could result in the creation of 54 jobs, according to a statement. The expansion will include an additional 35,536 square feet of production space, which will enable the company to process more than 115 million additional pounds of fruit, according to a statement from Peterson Farms CEO Aaron Peterson. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, along with Michigan Community Capital and PNC Bank, are supporting the expansion with more than $4.2 million combined via grants, awards and tax credits.
  • Grand Rapids-based Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital began managing operations at Beacon Health System’s Elkhart General Hospital in Elkhart, Ind., and Memorial Hospital in South Bend on Jan. 1. Mary Free Bed added Beacon Health to a rehab network that already included eight health systems and more than 30 Michigan hospitals with a combined 350 inpatient rehabilitation beds, plus a number of outpatient units. 
  • Kids’ Food Basket, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit that distributes meals for children, is expanding its efforts in Ottawa and Allegan counties with a new location in Holland. The expansion comes after a fundraising effort that raised $2.5 million. Kids’ Food Basket acquired property for the expansion in July 2019, purchasing a facility at 652 Hastings Ave. in Holland for $479,000. The nonprofit is working with Holland-based Lakewood Construction on renovations to the facility.

Venture capital

  • Grand Rapids-based Grand Ventures co-led a $5 million seed capital round for Tealbook Inc., a Toronto, Ontario-based producer of procurement software that uses artificial intelligence. Grand Ventures Fund I LP, which closed last fall on a $28 million fundraising round, invested in Tealbook with Cincinnati, Ohio-based Refinery Ventures, Workday Ventures in San Francisco, Calif., and Stand Up Ventures and BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Fund, both based in Toronto. Tealbook plans to use the capital for product innovation and sales and marketing initiatives.

Health care

  • Bill Manns returns to West Michigan this spring when he becomes the new president and CEO at Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo. The 52-year-old Manns joins Bronson on March 30, succeeding long-time Bronson CEO Frank Sardone, who retired at the end of 2019. Manns presently serves as president of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, a 537-bed tertiary care and academic medical center, and St. Joseph Mercy Livingston, a 136-bed community hospital in Howell. Both hospitals are part of Trinity Health Michigan. He previously served as president of Trinity-owned Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids from 2013 to October 2018.

Real estate

  • The Kent County Road Commission board has approved a one-year option for the city of Grand Rapids to purchase its Central Complex located on the west bank of the Grand River. Under the terms of the agreement, which still requires approval of the Grand Rapids City Commission, the city will have the option to buy the 14.2-acre site for a negotiated price of $7.75 million. The city will have 12 months to perform due diligence on the property and must close on the deal no later than September 2022, according to a statement. The Central Complex property is located at 1500 Scribner Ave., adjacent to U.S. 131 along the west bank of the Grand River north of downtown Grand Rapids. The property includes more than 130,000 square feet of buildings.
Read 2199 times