• Wednesday September 5, 2018

Detroit’s Peninsula Capital Partners today announced it has sold its interests in Walpar in connection with a sale of the company to Valmont Industries Inc. of Omaha, Neb. Walpar is based in Birmingham, Ala.

Peninsula acquired a controlling interest in Walpar from its founders in 2009 with capital provided by its fourth managed investment partnership, Peninsula Fund IV LP, a $335 million committed capital fund.

The transaction resulted in all of Peninsula Fund IV’s equity ownership being acquired by Valmont. Valmont is a global company that designs and manufactures engineered products to support infrastructure development and agricultural production.

Walpar designs, engineers, and fabricates overhead road signage structures sold primarily to departments of transportation in southeastern and Atlantic Coast states. The company’s structures can also support electronic traffic signage, traffic cameras, speed monitoring devices, and other roadway apparatuses.

“Although Walpar was a small and somewhat informally managed business when we were first introduced to it in 2009, we immediately recognized that its core competencies of design and engineering were world-class, and with proper guidance, very scalable,” says Karl LaPeer, a partner at Peninsula Capital who led the Walpar investment from inception to exit.

“We believed that by introducing professional management practices and IT systems to a very capable management team, we could leverage the company’s strengths and grow it meaningfully. Accordingly, immediately after acquiring Walpar, we set about with our transaction partners, Rockgate Partners, providing the company and its employees with the tools to do their jobs better and faster, resulting in accelerated revenue and earnings growth.”

Scott Reilly, president of Peninsula Capital Partners, says the growth and sale of Walpar represents the firm’s philosophy of differentiating itself within the private equity industry by rejecting the rigid criteria of what often constitutes a good investment opportunity.

“We pride ourselves on being open-minded and flexible, and finding those diamonds-in-the-rough companies that can grow into something bigger and better,” says Reilly. “The Walpar investment also shows our patience, as we were in the deal for over nine years, steadily building the company’s capabilities while expanding its fabrication capacity and geographic reach.

“The fact that Valmont, a NYSE-listed entity, bought a company that had just $11 million of revenue when we acquired it, shows the vision and resolve of our investment team.”

Peninsula Capital is a private equity investment firm that has raised six investment partnerships totaling about $1.6 billion of committed capital. The firm has closed more than 120 platform investments since 1995.

– Grace Turner

Just over seven years ago, we announced that MMGY Global was being backed by an investment group, Peninsula Capital Partners L.L.C., out of Detroit, MI. While unsure of what the new reality might look like going from a family-owned business for more than three decades to one that was private equity backed, I decided to jump in feet first and full of optimism.

I’m so glad I did because in the seven years we’ve partnered with Peninsula we have invested in 11 travel-focused businesses, grew our team of 175 professionals to 600, and expanded our research capabilities to a global scale.

We are now better positioned than ever to serve our clients with a level of global talent and expertise that is setting a new standard for agency partners. Thank you to Karl LaPeer, Andrew Wiegand, Dennis Murphy and the team at Peninsula for supporting us at every turn the last 7+ years.

From the very beginning, we have had a very collaborative and enjoyable partnership with Peninsula. We built camaraderie through challenges that could stress relationships. We have had numerous complicated issues to resolve and they continue to help us find solutions. Their team brings a very desirable combination of experience, skills, and integrity. Our team has really enjoyed the partnership and we look forward to working together for many years to come.”

It has been a pleasure to work with the people at Peninsula. During good times, they have been supportive of our growth. When our business faced challenging economic times, their trust in our management team, financial support and willingness to adjust our capital structure helped to navigate to a stable and healthy position. Peninsula’s strong bank relationships are a key element to our business’ success.”

To find a partner that shared our passion was a prerequisite that we thought we’d struggle to find, but from the get go Peninsula showed a real understanding and empathy for our business and the people within it. We’re over a year in and we’re delighted with our decision and remain firmly on track to achieve our ambitious long-term goals.”

Partnering with Peninsula has been one of the best decisions we have made thus far as an independent sponsor. The team is highly disciplined, applies strong analytics and consistently displays a high level of integrity. Through good times and bad, Peninsula has proven to be a valuable partner, providing solid guidance and support to management teams and independent sponsors alike. While risk mitigation is always front and center, Peninsula is adept at finding smart and creative ways to help companies grow while maintaining a strong and vibrant work culture for employees to thrive.”

When we sold our company to Peninsula, I had many questions, and some anxiety, about how we would be treated post-deal. Seven years later, all of those questions have been answered. It could not be a more fulfilling (and successful) partnership.”

Peninsula has been an invaluable partner for Weave. Of the various capital partners we considered, Peninsula treated us like a true partner throughout the process, engaging in honest and transparent dialog. Post transaction, the Peninsula team continued to be aligned and cooperative partners, helping to professionalize the financials, inserting new management, and securing a larger warehouse. As a capital provider, Peninsula is singular in its understanding of, and flexibility in, working with independent sponsors.”

Over the past seven years, Peninsula Capital Partners has been instrumental in supporting the Burlington team’s transition from a small unsophisticated company to a global leader in the radiation protection industry. They have supported us through early challenges, led our strategic acquisition efforts, and they continue to act as an extension of our management team. In doing so, they understand our business and have embraced our company vision. We deeply appreciate the investment Peninsula Capital Partners has made in upgrading our manufacturing and computer technologies, but their most valuable contributions have been their partnership, support, and guidance.”

In my experience, strategic alignment of stakeholders is the most critical element of success for a private equity-backed business. The Peninsula team does a fantastic job of communicating with management to ensure such alignment. They create a true partnership, striking an ideal balance between guidance and autonomy, and have proven to be extremely skillful in creating the right environment for growth.”

We represented a client who had recently closed a transaction with Peninsula. It has been our experience that cultural fit is an important ingredient of a successful transaction. Our client had an instant connection with the Peninsula team, which carried all the way through negotiations, due diligence and the inevitable complexities that emerge in any transaction. The unique deal structure proposed by Peninsula was a compelling value proposition for our client and we look forward to their shared future success.”

Over the last several years, we have faced a unique challenge caused by COVID. When an industry experiences these types of shocks, all aspects of your business are tested, including key financial partnerships. During times of risk, most financial partners will look for ways to tighten controls and restrict how a company operates. James Illikman and Peninsula took a different approach and looked at the longer-term opportunity and invested the time and resources into making the business stronger.”

Chris Gessner and Peninsula have been our go-to capital partner for years now. Their ability and desire to work through difficult and challenging deal issues sets them apart from other capital partners. Chris is flexible and creative in negotiations with both sellers and independent sponsors and is transparent throughout the deal process.”

I strongly recommend that you consider Peninsula Capital as your business partner. Together, we have done so much more than I could have possibly done alone. They have guided my team and provided insight and resources which we’ve used to increase the value of my company substantially! My only regret is that I did not contact them earlier in the development of my company because I am having fun and attaining outstanding success by working with Peninsula Capital. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions related to this partnership with Peninsula Capital Partners.”