Private equity group Aterian Investment Partners has purchased toy maker Step2 LLC in a move it says will make the “largest outdoor toy company in North America.”
Aterian already owns Backyard Discovery, it said in an Oct. 18 news release, a maker and designer of backyard swing sets, playhouses and home and garden products. Adding Step2 of Streetsboro, Ohio, will greatly enhance its product offerings and bring in combined annual sales of about $300 million, Step2 CEO Chris Quinn said in a a phone interview.
“We believe Step2's combination with Backyard Discovery immediately creates the leading backyard toy company,” said Quinn added in a news release. “With the support of Aterian and Backyard Discovery, we plan to grow the business and its product offerings with a continued focus on quality and safety.”
Step2 already is the second largest rotomolder in North America, according to Plastics News' most recent ranking, with $177.4 million in sales.
It was not immediately clear what plastics production Backyard Discovery has in house.
Backyard Discovery, based in Pittsburg, Kan., has 200 employees and was acquired by New York-based Aterian in 2015. In addition to making toys, pergolas and other backyard lawn and garden items, it assembles those items in what it calls the growing “Do-it-for-me” business space.
Quinn and David Thornhill, CEO of Backyard Discovery, will remain with the company.
Backyard Discovery mainly uses wood to make its range of outdoor products. It does a limited amount of plastic rotational molding in-house, but has worked with outside suppliers for additional rotomolding, Quinn said. Step2 has not been a Backyard Discovery supplier.
Backyard Discovery also outsources injection and blow-molded plastic components.
Quinn said Backyard Discovery's wood-based focus can help Step2 develop new products.
“It will open us up to make products with blended materials,” he said. “They have design and material expertise in experienced woodcrafters.”
Step2 will retain its corporate identity and both firms will continue with their well-known brand names. Backyard Discovery will become an operating division of Step2 and keep its Kansas operation running.