Highlights from Ambrell’s Lessons Learned
By Noa Simons, Executive Director, Upstate Capital Association of New York
Over 50 people gathered at Artisan Works at an event hosted by the Upstate Capital Association of New York on November 15 to hear how Ambrell leveraged private equity investment to advance manufacturing in Rochester. The investment has resulted in retaining over 80 jobs in upstate NY, as Jeff Valentine pointed out, with growth plans that will add several more jobs in the coming months. A number of people directly involved with Ambrell, from both the investor set and company management, were on hand to discuss specifics of the opportunity and details of how the management team worked together with investors to build value in the business.
Randy Bianchi, managing director with Lakelet Capital, launched the program by introducing Upstate Capital as the premier networking organization for capital providers and transaction professionals across New York State. Will Hoy, a corporate attorney with Harter Secrest and Emery, worked on the buy side of the transaction and introduced the panelists.
Dave Helgerson from Hamilton Lane, Tony Lucido from Ambrell and Brandon Martindale from Graycliff Partners engaged in a discussion that covered the investment thesis, strategy formation and execution that led to an acquisition of the company in less than 4 years, well below the national average for private equity hold times (which, incidentally, is rising according to Pitchbook).
Valentine, with Exium Partners, sourced the opportunity a few years ago, and introduced Ambrell to Graycliff Partners. The management team was evaluating its exit options, and decided to sell a majority interest to Graycliff, which in turn syndicated the deal to a couple of minority investors, including Hamilton Lane. According to Martindale, who led the investment for Graycliff, the first 100 days were spent defining the strategy to re-orient the company to focus on growth.
Graycliff brought Tony Mazzulo in to lead the management team and Tony Lucido to lead sales and marketing, upon closing the investment in 2014. The company focused building a unified company leveraging technology and good management practices to foster a culture of transparency and accountability. All this professionalization led to a few early offers from potential buyers, and earlier in 2017, inTEST completed an acquisition of Ambrell.