Big Chief Inc., a fabricator and distributor of industrial thermal equipment for plastics processors, has a new private equity owner that intends to help it grow: Gryphon Investors.
Gryphon holds investments in more than 30 companies spanning everything from plastics to health care. The San Francisco firm closed the Big Chief deal Sept. 18 through an umbrella company it launched for the occasion, Thermal Technology Distribution Solutions (TTDS).
Terms were not disclosed.
Jeff Howe, former chief commercial officer of Big Chief and now its president, said Gryphon is just what his company was searching for in a buyer.
"They were the obvious choice," Howe said by phone Sept. 25. "We were looking for someone intent on growing the business with Big Chief as its platform."
Craig Nikrant, operating partner of Gryphon's small-cap Heritage Fund, said in a news release that Gryphon already has identified opportunities to grow Big Chief, both organically and by "pursuing add-on acquisitions that complement BC's core strengths and enable it to scale rapidly."
Keith Stimson, who heads the Heritage Fund, said his company will take advantage of Big Chief's experience in value-added distribution and manufacturing in the fragmented market.
That experience, he said in a news release, will be especially relevant to Gryphon's other plastics-related investments, which include compounder Techmer PM, sheet extruder Pacur and additives supplier Vivify Specialty Ingredients.
Gryphon manages assets worth more than $8.9 billion, targeting middle-market investments of $50 million to $300 million.
Terry Howe, who preceded his brother as Big Chief president, now becomes a member of the TTDS board of managers. Terry and Jeff Howe both will hold a meaningful stake in TTDS, Gryphon said.
Big Chief was founded by their father, James Howe, Sr., in 1962. The Cincinnati company's brands include Barber-Colman, Leister, Gefran, Tempco, Chromalox, Durex and Ogden. It provides hot-runner systems, barrels, screws, pressure transducers, temperature control units and other heat-related products.