Published in Economic Development

MiBiz Growth Report: February 16, 2020

BY MIBIZ STAFF Sunday, February 16, 2020 09:00am

This is the MiBiz growth report for February 16, 2020.


  • Charlotte-based Spartan Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: SPAR) has divested its emergency response division to Milwaukee-based REV Group Inc. (NYSE: REVG) in a $55 million cash deal, effective Feb. 1. The deal allows Spartan Motors to refocus its business on e-commerce, electrification and autonomous technologies, according to a statement. Under the transaction, Spartan Emergency Response and its brands Spartan Fire Apparatus and Chassis, Smeal Fire Apparatus, Ladder Tower, and UST became part of REV’s Fire & Emergency segment. REV Group also purchased the rights to the “Spartan” name and logo, which it is licensing back to Spartan Motors for its RV chassis business. Spartan plans to change its corporate name “in the coming months, subject to shareholder approval.” The company plans to use proceeds from the divestiture to pay down debt and for working capital. 
  • A division of the Bay Mills Indian Community, based in the eastern Upper Peninsula, has signed an agreement to acquire Four Season’s Market Inc., a grocery store in Brimley. The tribal council approved Bay Mills Enterprises moving forward with the deal on Jan. 27. It expects the acquisition to close within the next six months, according to a statement. The 5,160-square-foot IGA-affiliated store is directly across the street from the 160-acre Brimley State Park, located along Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior, about 15 miles southwest of Sault Ste. Marie. Bay Mills Indian Community Tribal Chairman Bryan Newland said the acquisition will help the tribe toward its goal of “diversifying our business holdings.” The tribe expects to retain all current employees of the store. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 
  • Lansing-based Neogen Corp. (Nasdaq: NEOG), a food and animal safety products manufacturer, has acquired U.K.-based Abtek Biologicals Limited to accelerate growth in its global microbiology product portfolio. Abtek is a developer and supplier of culture media supplements and microbiology technologies with a production facility in Liverpool whose products complement Neogen’s culture media offerings, according to a statement. The Abtek operation will be managed through Neogen’s European headquarters in Scotland. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
  • Foxbright LLC, a Grand Rapids software and web services company, was acquired by Hannah Lawrence from owners Catherine Ettinger and Paula Whisman. Founded in 2002, Foxbright primarily works with schools to manage and improve their websites. Calder Capital LLC represented Foxbright in the sale. Terms were undisclosed. Calder Capital also represented Michigan-based Family Wellness Center in the sale to an individual buyer.
  • Marketing and branding firm Revel acquired Borns B2B. The deal, which closed Jan. 30, “augments and enhances” Revel’s capabilities, partner and CEO Jason Piasecki said. Muskegon-based Revel serves small and mid-sized manufacturers, primarily in West Michigan. Muskegon-based Left Coast Capital Resources LLC brokered the deal, which was financed by Community Shores Bank, also of Muskegon. Terms of the deal were undisclosed. Borns B2B staff moved into Revel’s offices at Lake View Lofts on Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon. Each company retains its brand, and Borns B2B founder Randy Borns remains in business development and creative roles after the transaction.
  • Niles-based metal components manufacturer Modineer Co. Inc. will broaden its capabilities and enter new end markets under a deal to acquire the family-owned P-K Tool & Manufacturing Co. of Chicago. P-K Tool serves customers in the the powersports and automotive industries and offers tool design and build, welding, laser cutting, machining and assembly, according to a statement. The company employs more than 950 people. Terms of the deal, which closed Jan. 31, were not disclosed. Modineer is owned by Chicago-based Westbourne Capital Partners, a private equity firm that works with family offices to invest in private companies; Oklahoma City-based family investment firm Hall Capital, the parent company of automotive supplier The Fred Jones Companies; and an unnamed private investor.
  • Holland-based Westside Auto Group Inc. acquired All Auto Care, a Grand Rapids-based automotive repair shop. The new ownership has been updating the renamed All Auto Services facility at Ball Avenue and Leonard Street, as well as purchased new equipment, according to a statement. The transaction was completed in November 2019 and announced this month. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 


  • Niles-based Niles Steel Tank Co. has completed an 85,000-square-foot facility to grow manufacturing capacity for its Alloy Works specialty division that makes stainless steel vessels. The expansion allows the company to better react to shifting demands from its customers, according to a statement. Alloy Works makes custom tanks for customers in the hydronics, chemical and petrochemical, dairy and food processing, brewing and winery, pharmaceutical and air products industries. Niles Steel Tank is a subsidiary of Bradford White Corp. of Ambler, Pa. Bradford White also operates a Michigan manufacturing facility in Middleville.


  • Insurance broker Acrisure LLC pledged $15 million to Spectrum Health to create a virtual innovation center for children’s health at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Advanced programs and services at the Acrisure Center for Innovation in Children’s Health will initially focus on genomics and virtual health, according to a statement. Acrisure is one of the top 10 insurance brokers in the U.S. majority with $2 billion in revenue, 561 offices in 39 states and 16 international locations. The company has grown rapidly in the last several years through an aggressive mergers and acquisition strategy and easily ranks as the top acquirer in North America. Acrisure plans to move its headquarters and 400 employees from its current location in Caledonia to the south side of downtown Grand Rapids in the $30 million Studio Park development that’s now under construction.


  • Red Oak Capital Group LLC has formed another fund that seeks to raise $50 million through a public bond offering to make commercial real estate bridge loans. The Grand Rapids-based Red Oak Capital said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has fully qualified Red Oak Capital Fund IV and the bond fund is now open to investors. Formation of the fourth bond fund follows three previous funds of $50 million each that funded 23 commercial real estate projects, including six by Fund III, said Red Oak Capital CEO Chip Cummings. Fund IV also comes to market after Red Oak’s Fund III reached capacity in December after only two months.

Real estate

  • Bradley Veneklase, associate broker at Grand Rapids-based Urban Soil Realty, has proposed converting the lower level of 65 Monroe Center St. NW into a five-room, 2,600-square-foot micro-hotel branded The Finnley, which he named for his daughter. The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority approved a $25,000 Downtown Enhancement Grant that will help upgrade the lobby of the building to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which involves lowering the lobby by about six inches. Demolition is ongoing, and Veneklase anticipates the project will be finished in August. Wyoming-based Richard Postema Associates Architects and Engineers PC served as the architect, and Grand Rapids-based Eastown Construction Inc. is completing the construction.
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