H.I.G. Capital Invests in High Gear Group

An affiliate of H.I.G. Capital has completed its investment in the Higher Gear Group. Financial terms were not disclosed. The High Gear Group, of Schaumburg, Ill., provides customer relationship management software to automotive dealers in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. H.I.G. Capital is a private equity firm with more than $7.5 billion of equity under management.

PRESS RELEASE

The Higher Gear Group, an industry-leading provider of software and services to the automotive industry, today announced the completion of an investment in the company by an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital, a global private investment firm with more than $7.5 billion of equity under management. Founded in 1998 by industry veteran Robert C. Gruen, The Higher Gear Group provides customer relationship management (CRM) software and related services to automotive dealers throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. The Company’s software tracks the entire lifecycle of retail automotive customers, facilitating the management, retention and conversion of customer leads at dealerships.

“We are eager to work with the team at H.I.G. Capital, who has significant experience in growing service-oriented businesses and can help us reach new heights. H.I.G.’s investment in our organization recognizes our market leadership and makes us stronger than ever.”
Based in Schaumburg, Illinois, The Higher Gear Group was a pioneer in the automotive CRM sector, developing custom software solutions specifically tailored to address the unique process of selling cars, trucks and other motor vehicles at retail dealerships. The Company’s leading software was rapidly adopted throughout North America by dealerships seeking to realize a higher return on their significant investments in sales and marketing. In the decade between 1999 and 2009, the Company grew its customer base at an average annual rate of 60%, outpacing its competition and establishing itself as the leading independent player in the industry. The Higher Gear Group currently serves customers in 47 of 50 states.

H.I.G.’s investment in The Higher Gear Group will help the Company expand its product offering and support the ongoing growth of its dealer base. H.I.G.’s investment represents the first outside investment ever received by the Company, and positions the Company to build on its historical success. With the completion of this financing, Robert Gruen is resuming his role as President & CEO of the Company. About the transaction, Gruen commented: “We are eager to work with the team at H.I.G. Capital, who has significant experience in growing service-oriented businesses and can help us reach new heights. H.I.G.’s investment in our organization recognizes our market leadership and makes us stronger than ever.”

“As one of the largest and most successful CRM providers to the automotive industry, The Higher Gear Group has a long history of success. We are excited to join with Robert Gruen and his team,” said Neil Tuch, Managing Director of H.I.G. “The Company has an attractive customer base of leading dealerships and is well-positioned to capitalize on a number of unique growth opportunities. After two challenging years in the automotive sector, the industry is poised for significant recovery. As new car sales volumes continue to climb, we expect dealerships to make increasing investments in technology-based solutions that improve sales efficiency and profitability. We share management’s excitement about the future and look forward to working with them to extend their market-leading position.”