Blackford Capital’s Michigan Prosperity Fund Names Former Michigan Governor Engler to Board

Blackford Capital said Wednesday that former Michigan Governor John Engler has joined the advisory board for the Michigan Prosperity Fund, which plans on investing in Michigan private equity. Other newly added members of the board include Mark A. Murray, Mary Petrovich and David L. Porteous. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Blackford Capital is a private equity firm that focuses on middle-market manufacturing, distribution and service companies.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — A team of leading business and political leaders announced plans to invest in Michigan private equity, forming an Advisory Board with national private equity firm Blackford Capital to target Michigan-based investments. Blackford said the Michigan Prosperity Fund advisory board is being launched by former Michigan Governor John Engler, Mark A. Murray, Mary Petrovich and David L. Porteous.
“We are honored to have these four proven leaders launching the advisory board of the Michigan Prosperity Fund,” said Martin Stein, founder and managing partner of Blackford Capital. “All have strong ties to Michigan and have a vested interest in seeing the Fund support the state’s economy through protecting and generating jobs by investing local money in Michigan companies.”
Private equity investors put $9.6 billion into 50 deals in Michigan last year, according to a report from the Private Equity Growth Council, putting the state 12th in dollar value and 13th in the number of investments. A study conducted in 2012 by the Institute for Exceptional Growth Companies and Pepperdine University found that companies that received private equity investments had a job creation rate that was 257 percent higher than the control group that did not receive private equity funding. The companies also generated revenue that was 129 percent higher than the control group.
Blackford Capital, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based private equity company focused on acquiring, managing, and building middle-market manufacturing, distribution and service companies, created The Michigan Prosperity Fund in 2012 to generate best-in-class returns for investors within the state of Michigan while at the same time supporting the Michigan economy by maintaining local ownership of Michigan companies and protecting and creating jobs locally. Since the start of the Fund, Blackford has acquired two companies: Custom Profile, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., in August 2012 and Mopec, based in Metro Detroit, on June 6 of this year.
“These are all individuals who have significantly influenced the economy and the quality of life in our state,” said Jeff Helminski, managing director of Blackford Capital. “We are thrilled to be working with them and believe the Michigan Prosperity Fund will benefit tremendously from their insight and guidance.”
Former three-term Governor of Michigan John Engler is currently the president of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. corporations where he works to promote policies to enhance U.S. global economic leadership, including a restructuring of the nation’s system of taxation. He previously served six years as the president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of America. During his years in office, Engler worked to improve education, cut taxes, reform welfare, and resize Michigan government. He also serves on the boards of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Universal Forest Products.
“I spent the majority of my career working to improve Michigan’s business environment and in my travels to each of Michigan’s counties I have seen many terrific small companies headed by talented executives,” Engler said. “My confidence in Blackford’s ability to preserve and expand these companies led me to accept a role as the chairman of the advisory board to Blackford’s Michigan Prosperity Fund. I am excited to help the Blackford team and the owners of Michigan companies provide solutions to both job creation and preservation and the potential it has to be a model nationally.”
Mark A. Murray serves as co-CEO and vice chairman of Meijer, Inc. Meijer is a retailer operating in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. Prior to Meijer, Murray served as president of Grand Valley State University from 2001-2006. He also served as treasurer for the state of Michigan from 1999 to 2001 and vice president of finance and administration for Michigan State University from 1998 to 1999. Mr. Murray also serves on the boards of DTE Energy and Universal Forest Products and is a member of Business Leaders for Michigan.
Mary Petrovich is an operating executive focused on U.S. buyout opportunities in the industrial sector with The Carlyle Group, a $180 billion private equity firm. Prior to working at Carlyle, Petrovich was chairman and chief executive officer of Axle Tech International. Before Axle Tech, Petrovich served as president of Dura Automotive’s global $1 billion Driver Controls unit. Earlier, she held roles of increasing responsibility with AlliedSignal, leading several automotive/industrial businesses. Petrovich serves on the board of directors of WABCO, Modine Manufacturing Company, GT Advanced Technologies and Woodward Inc., all of which are publicly traded companies. She received her MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BSE in industrial operations engineering from the University of Michigan.
David L. Porteous is a partner at McCurdy Wotila & Porteous and is also a consultant with the international law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. He is currently lead director of the board of directors of Huntington Bancshares Inc. and serves on the board of Jackson National Life Insurance Company of New York. Mr. Porteous is a recognized authority on economic development and has served on the board of directors of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) and the Michigan Strategic Fund. He is also the former chairman of the board of Michigan State University.
Custom Profile is an extruder of plastic profile components and currently employs 165 people and also operates a facility in Mexico. The company’s primary customers included Herman Miller, Haworth, Steelcase, Electrolux, and Whirlpool. The company was founded in 1992 and has experienced tremendous growth both locally and with customers throughout North America.
Mopec was founded in 1992 and currently employs 75 people at its facility in Oak Park. It serves customers with a wide range of products for the pathology and mortuary market including the Mayo Clinic, Duke University Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Spectrum Health and the Cleveland Clinic.
About Blackford Capital
Blackford Capital is a private equity firm based in Grand Rapids, Mich., that acquires, manages and builds middle-market manufacturing, distribution and service companies, with seven portfolio companies employing more than 950 people and with combined revenues of approximately $225 million. Blackford has offices in Grand Rapids (headquarters) and Santa Monica, CA. Blackford has closed 27 transactions since 2005. The firm’s investment criteria includes mature, profitable businesses with revenues between $20 million and $100 million and with management teams that are either interested in remaining with the company to promote its continued growth or are seeking to retire. For more information, visit