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Private equity firm buys Ohio sheet maker Rowmark

By: Bill Bregar

October 2, 2013

Rowmark LLC, a Findlay, Ohio-based sheet extruder that serves the engraving and decorative markets, and the thermoforming sector, has a new private equity owner. A management group that owns a stake in Rowmark will remain at the company.

Bertram Capital Management LLC of San Mateo, Calif., announced Oct. 2 it is acquiring Rowmark from Clearview Capital LLC of Greenwich, Conn. Terms were not disclosed.

Rowmark employs about 150 people in plants in Findlay and Trenton, N.C., and a warehouse in Antwerp, Belgium. The company does not release sales numbers.

"It's business as usual. We're just going to keep growing the business," said Rowmark President and CEO Duane Jebbett in a telephone interview.

In a news release, Bertram Capital partner Kevin Yamashita called Rowmark "an established market leader with strong brand recognition, supported by state-of-the-art manufacturing and unmatched global distribution network."

Rowmark's Engraving Products division is a global leader in engravable plastic sheet. Its Premier Material Concepts division makes highly engineered custom extruded sheet and rollstock for specialty thermoforming applications.

Rowmark was founded in 1987 as a division of Findlay-based pipe extruder Hancor Inc. In 1997, former Hancor CEO Fred Kremer bought Rowmark from Hancor. A few months later, Kremer and two other employees were killed in a private plane crash. The Kremer family appointed Jebbett as president in 1998.

In late 2006, Clearview Capital backed a management team that bought Rowmark from the Kremers.

Jebbett said there are 12 people in the management team that continued to have an ownership stake. He declined to say what percentage of Rowmark is owned by the management team.

Bertram Capital partner Kevin Yamashita said the management is a very important part of Rowmark. "They are staying involved with the business," he said in a telephone interview. "We're really excited to have a chance to partner with Duane and his team, and they're a big part of our level of excitement in this deal."

Rowmark has grown by adding equipment — most notably a production line that can extrude sheet up to 10 feet wide — and by acquisition. Most recently, Rowmark in 2011 bought the assets of decorative plastic sheet maker Southtech Plastics Inc. of New Bern, N.C. Rowmark then merged those operations with its own plant in nearby Trenton.