By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Climax acquired by private equity firm

That led the company to the Industrial Growth Partners IV Limited Partnership, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, which agreed June 25 to purchase a controlling interest.

Established in 1966, Climax designs and manufactures portable machining and welding products, including boring machines, valve repair systems, mills and custom products. Offered for lease or sale, its specialized tools are used in the construction, mining, power generation, shipbuilding and petrochemical industries throughout the world.

The company maintains manufacturing facilities and/or sales offices in the U.S., Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom. Altogether, it has established 16 rental depots and 34 distributorships. It holds 32 patents and has four more pending.

It has a local workforce of 165 and total workforce of almost 200. That includes a 10-member East Coast office that Climax established in Amherst, N.H., after its 2011 acquisition of Bortech, a manufacturer of portable welding equipment.

Climax had maintained a relationship with another investment group for the last seven years, but had outgrown its capabilities. Sales have risen almost 500 percent in 10 years, pushing the company needs to a new level, it said.

According to its website, IGP invests in manufacturing companies combining a history of profitability, strong market positions and annual revenue of $30 million to $150 million. It has raised $1.4 billion of equity capital since its inception in 1997, it indicates.

Climax President and CEO Geoff Gilmore said that made the firm a good fit.

“IGP’s familiarity with Climax’s end markets, and the firm’s long track record in the industrial manufacturing sector, make IGP an ideal equity partner for us,” he said. “The Climax management team is excited about the opportunity to draw upon IGP’s deep industry experience to help us expand within our existing markets, further penetrate international geographies and pursue additional acquisitions. We ... believe that IGP will be invaluable in offering the necessary support to ... capitalize on our numerous growth opportunities.”

In addition to business growth, Climax has developed a strong intern program which recently has been working with the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership to expand into the McMinnville area for local students and businesses. In addition to MEDP, those involved in the internship program are Freelin-Wade, Solid Form Fabrication and the Yamhill County Clerk’s office.

Andy Becker, vice president for strategic planning and marketing, said he doesn’t anticipate many changes initially. “Immediate changes here will be pretty invisible,” he said.

But he’s projecting a large long-term payoff from access to IGP investors.

“We’re very excited with our new investment partners,” he said. “We feel they can help us, both financially and to meet the growth.”

Becker said the company is well-positioned in its industry and has established a strong base to build from in Newberg.

“We’ve got great support,” he said. “We feel it’s a great place to continue our growth.”

Becker said Climax has been experiencing strong growth in both the United States and Latin America, notably Brazil, Chile and Peru. He said it is also doing well in Australia and Europe, and has new facilities planned in Poland and Britain that should help it maintain momentum.

Locally, the company has embraced the LEAN manufacturing movement and launched an ambitious internship program that has become a model for other manufacturing companies around the county.

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