Aqua-Leisure Industries secures investment from Blackford

Blackford Capital has made an investment in Massachusetts-based Aqua-Leisure Industries, a provider of water sport leisure products and aquatic goods.

Blackford Capital has made an investment in Massachusetts-based Aqua-Leisure Industries, a provider of water sport leisure products and aquatic goods. No financial terms were disclosed.

PRESS RELEASE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Blackford Capital, a private equity firm based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, today announced an investment in Aqua-Leisure Industries, a leader and pioneer in water sport leisure product development and aquatic goods.

Headquartered just outside of Boston, Aqua-Leisure was founded in 1970 and primarily serves the aquatic consumer products industry. The company is one of the largest and most innovative designers and distributors of multiple lines of high quality, performance-based products under a variety of brand names and proprietary designs, including swim goggles, “Learn to Swim” products for children, and pool floats, among other categories.

“Aqua-Leisure has appealed to premier sporting goods and value channel consumers throughout our 50-year history. Our organization’s overall approach to market assessment, product design, supply chain logistics and product positioning, whether through brick and mortar or e-commerce channels, has consistently delivered robust performance,” said Steve Berenson, CEO of Aqua-Leisure. “We serve some of the largest and most demanding customers in the world. We are excited about our partnership with Blackford Capital as it will create accelerated growth opportunities through expansion of current relationships and product lines as well as evolving new categories and sales channels.”

Aqua-Leisure’s execution and growth through the COVID-19 crisis significantly enhanced its credibility with key existing and prospective customers. Blackford intends to help Aqua-Leisure seize these opportunities to gain market share and capitalize on key industry trends, including unprecedented consumer demand through e-commerce and online sales channels. The company’s management team will continue in their current roles.

“We are thrilled to add Aqua-Leisure to our portfolio as another diversified consumer products business with a vision for continued evolution,” said Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital. “The company has impressive and decades-long relationships with excellent customers, which have strengthened recently as Aqua-Leisure’s products have experienced tremendous consumer demand for backyard use and ‘staycations’ driven by the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. Throughout this period, Aqua-Leisure has proven itself to be an incredibly reliable partner and supplier. We are excited to partner with Steve Berenson and the rest of the Aqua-Leisure management team to promote organic growth, pursue new distribution opportunities, and execute meaningful add-on acquisitions over the coming years.”

Varnum LLP served as legal advisor, Grant Thornton served as the financial and tax advisor, and Rush Street served as debt financing advisor to Blackford. Mercantile Bank provided debt financing and Muzinich & Co. provided debt and equity financing in support of the transaction.

Aqua-Leisure was advised by Tully & Holland and Jon Pratt, Managing Director at Duff & Phelps.

About Blackford Capital
Founded in 2010, Blackford Capital is a private equity investment firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Blackford Capital makes majority control investments in founder and family-owned, lower middle-market manufacturing, industrials, and distribution. Currently, Blackford Capital has eleven portfolio companies. Blackford and their team members have received a number of recognitions over the past several years, including M&A Adviser Private Equity Firm of the year, Corp. Magazine Small Company of the Year (Michigan), GR Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year (West Michigan), numerous recognitions on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing private companies list and M&A Adviser Private Equity Professional of the Year (Martin Stein). For more information, visit blackfordcapital.com.