Champlain Capital Sells Earth Tool to Ditch Witch

Champlain Capital Partners has sold Earth Cool Company Inc. to The Charles Machine Works Inc. (aka Ditch Witch). No financial terms were disclosed. Earth Tool is a maker of piercing tools, bursting systems, pneumatic hammers and horizontal directional drills.


Champlain Capital Partners is pleased to announce the successful exit of Earth Tool Company, Inc (ETC), a Champlain portfolio company, through a strategic sale to Ditch Witch (The Charles Machine Works, Inc).  Earth Tool is a global leader in the design and manufacture of piercing tools, bursting systems, pneumatic hammers and horizontal directional drill tooling under the Hammerhead and Trihawk brand names.

“We are pleased to consummate the sale of Earth Tool to a premier industry player such as Ditch Witch.  They recognized that Earth Tool’s intellectual property, best-in-class management team, and prominent brand names were an ideal fit with their strategy to further penetrate the water and sewer market,” said Eric Menke, board member and a Partner at Champlain Capital.

“Our decision to acquire Hammerhead/ETC was based on our long-term, strategic commitment to grow our core business,” says Tiffany Sewell-Howard, CEO of Ditch Witch. “We plan to fully leverage Hammerhead’s products and expertise to strengthen our position in the water and sewer rehabilitation markets globally.”

Champlain structured a leveraged buyout with Earth Tool management to acquire the company in 2006 and subsequently helped reshape the business into a broad-line manufacturer of “trenchless” ramming, bursting and piercing tools sold in all fifty states and more than a dozen countries.  The company’s piercing, bursting and ramming products are used by contractors around the globe to install or replace fiber, communication, water, sewer and gas lines with minimal disruption to above ground landscapes, structures and traffic flow.

Hammerhead/ETC and the Ditch Witch organization both expressed excitement and confidence that the acquisition will ensure long-term sustainability and market leadership. “Both companies have spent years developing customer confidence in our brands,” says Brian Metcalf, CEO of ETC. “Joining together reaffirms a commitment customers can continue to depend on.”

The sale of Earth Tool represents the fourth successful exit from Champlain’s current fund. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed due to strategic considerations and confidentiality.

About Champlain Capital:
Champlain Capital Partners, LP is a $140 million private equity fund dedicated to working with owners and management teams of middle-market companies. Champlain provides equity capital and financial, strategic, and operational expertise to assist owners and management teams in providing liquidity for shareholders, making strategic acquisitions, and financing major capital expenditures or growth programs.  Since 1992, the partners have invested over $750 million in more than 45 companies. These investments have facilitated transfers of ownership and provided capital for growing businesses in partnership with management.