In the last several years, there has been no shortage of acquisitions by many OEMs, suppliers and dealerships as companies look to gain market share, grow their product lineup, and, in general, position themselves to gain that all-too elusive competitive edge.
One such company is Valterra Products LLC in Mission Hills, Calif., which in the last four years has acquired no less than seven companies whose products and expertise complement the privately-held firm’s core business of manufacturing plumbing equipment and supplies for the RV, pool and spa, and industrial markets.
Buoyed by a 2013 recapitalization led by Connecticut-based private investment firm G. Scott Capital Partners LLC, Valterra’s acquisition strategy has resulted in a company that now numbers some 400 employees with operations in Alabama, British Columbia, Florida, Ohio and California.
The acquisition timeline includes:
- On July 17, 2014, Valterra acquired Mighty Cord/Rodale Technical Sales Inc., a Wantagh, N.Y.-based manufacturer of power cords, blowers, fans and coils.
- On March 17, 2015, Valterra acquired the manufacturing and marketing rights for Horst Miracle Probes from Denver-based Horst Dynamics Inc. The patented black and gray holding tank probes are specifically designed to provide accurate level readings without regard to conditions.
- Valterra announced on April 1, 2015, the acquisition of the Odorlos line of RV and marine holding tank odor control products from Yara North America Inc. in Tampa, Fla. The Odorlos line is an industrial nitrate formulation and complements Valterra’s existing bacteria-based Pure Power holding tank treatment offerings.
- Just a couple of months later, on June 8, 2015, Valterra completed the acquisition of Phoenix Products Inc., a Cleveland-based manufacturer of American-made faucets, showerheads and shower valves for RVs, manufactured homes, and marine applications that traces its roots to 1954.
- Following a two-year hiatus, Valterra resumed the growth-by-acquisition mode with the April 4, 2017, purchase of Diamond Group in Birmingham, Ala., a supplier specializing in LED lights and accessories for RVs, manufactured homes, marine and commercial applications.
- Later that summer, on Aug. 2, 2017, Carmanah Technologies Corp. in Victoria, British Columbia, sold its “Go Power!” off-grid power business to Valterra. Go Power! makes solar panels for the RV, marine, work truck, and fleet truck markets. The proceeds of the asset sale were announced as $19.5 million – the only acquisition whose transaction price was made public, it should be noted.
- Just a day after the Go Power! announcement, Valterra acquired Minder Research Inc., a Stuart, Fla.-based supplier specializing in wireless tire pressure monitoring systems for RVs and automotive applications.
Several of the acquisitions also included upper management personnel, including Rodale’s owner and president, Bryan Fletcher, who joined Valterra as its vice president of sales and marketing. In most other instances the acquired company’s executives stayed on, Fletcher told RVBusiness, as Valterra’s acquisition strategy includes retaining the existing talent and expertise.
“It’s really critical because, especially with each of the acquisitions that we made in 2017, they’re a little more technical products. Minder with their tire-pressure monitoring systems, and Diamond with their LED lights, and Go Power! with their solar kits, those are all technical products and require a certain expertise. It was critical that the management team and support team stayed with those businesses,” Fletcher said. “It’s a nice extension of what Valterra does, but it is new technology. At the same time, it’s nice to add some current technology to the Valterra line.”
Valterra’s acquisition strategy, Fletcher explained, is to identify well-run, profitable companies whose products are an extension of Valterra’s current product offering, such as a value-added technology or expertise. At the same time, he added, the company should have an experienced management team that wants to continue on with Valterra and to continue to grow the business.
“We’re not combining, or folding businesses, into the existing Valterra facility without retaining the people with customer and product expertise,” Fletcher noted. “We’re really relying on each of the business units to continue, and grow, and expand with their talents. It’s a little different approach; it’s really to ensure that entrepreneurial spirit continues in the companies that are being acquired.”
Fletcher said business has been good and, based on dealer enthusiasm, he expects that to continue for the foreseeable future. He added that Valterra would continue to seek acquisitions that fit within the company’s strategic criteria.
“There’s going to continue to be new product introductions from all the companies within Valterra, but for the most part I think here in the short-term we’re wanting to finish all the integrations,” he said. “We also launched a new operational ERP software at the first of the year, so we want to make sure that all integrates well, and then service our customers for the upcoming season. I’d say that’s our focus here for the next six months or so.”