Creative Foam’s owners saw an opportunity to use strategic acquisitions to solidify market share and expand to new markets
Creative Foam is an example of a strong company that was ready to initiate an acquisition strategy and was looking for a partner that could offer both capital and operational expertise to help them execute.
Creative Foam is a Fenton, Michigan-based manufacturer of custom-engineered die-cut formed foam, nonwoven and multi-material component solutions to the automotive, medical and wind energy markets. Founded in 1969, the company currently operates 12 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico, encompassing over one million square feet of production space.
Though its three end markets have very different needs, they all benefit from Creative Foam’s specialized knowledge in materials, design and manufacturing techniques. The company serves as both engineer and manufacturer, customizing materials for highly specific uses. Its Automotive Division helps customers solve vehicle issues related to noise, vibration, or harshness with sealing, airflow or insulation concerns. The Medical Division, which specializes in foam and sealing applications and radio frequency welding, makes consumable medical products such as sequential compression wraps, temperature regulating devices and body comfort pads. They also use foam encapsulation, molding/coating technology and in-house materials testing to make products for medical imaging devices, patient positioners and table pads. The Core Kitting Division provides kitting for the interiors of turbine blades for wind energy customers.
Creative Foam’s owners saw an opportunity to use strategic acquisitions to solidify market share and expand to new markets. They wanted a partner that could provide acquisition capital, but also the operational expertise to help the company manage add-ons and other planned expansions, improve existing operations and craft the management structure to best support the expected growth. The company had a broad base of owners, including members of the founding family, current and past employees, board members and outside shareholders, some of whom desired liquidity.
We recognized Creative Foam’s differentiated capabilities for each of its end markets. We believed the company had the management talent and robust operational systems to successfully execute an acquisition strategy and sustain organic growth.
THE DEAL + OPERATING THESES
In 2017, IOP partnered with CEO and second-generation leader David Swallow and his management team to acquire Creative Foam. As we structured the deal together, the Swallow family decided to reinvest a significant portion of its proceeds and remains a major shareholder of the business.
Our operating theses cover operational improvements and supporting growth:
- Partner with management to evaluate and execute add-on acquisitions
- Make connections with new prospects through IOP’s relationships in untapped markets
- Aid management in launching an automotive facility in Mexico and expanding the medical division in Indiana
- Improve ERP usage, develop tools to measure and improve operational activities
- Revamp the company’s organizational design so management can support growth opportunities
- Facilitate the retirement of the company’s CFO and develop a long-term plan to prepare the next generation of Creative Foam leadership
THE PARTNERSHIP + RESULTS
Since the autumn-2017 deal close, IOP and Creative Foam have been working together to evaluate acquisitions and prepare the company organizationally for expansion.