Kinderhook invests in Bestop

Kinderhook Industries LLC has acquired a stake in Bestop Inc. from Magna International. Financial terms weren’t announced. Kinderhook and Magna have equal stakes in Bestop but Kinderhook has control of the company’s day-to-day operations, according to Tom Tuttle, a Kinderhook MD. Bestop management also has a stake, he said. A Kinderhook/Magna joint venture will be looking to develop new products and make acquisitions in the Jeep Wrangler aftermarket, Tuttle said. Louisville, Colorado-based Bestop makes soft tops and fabric accessories for Jeep vehicles. GE Antares Capital, Babson Capital Management and NewStar Financial provided financing.


New York, NY – Kinderhook Industries, LLC (“Kinderhook”) announced today that they have executed a transaction whereby Bestop, Inc. (“Bestop” or the “Company”) has been acquired from Magna International Inc. (“Magna”) by a new Kinderhook / Magna joint venture which will pursue growth opportunities in the Jeep aftermarket. This is Kinderhook’s 8th automotive platform investment and 16th transaction in the automotive aftermarket sector. Final terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Louisville, CO, Bestop is the market leading manufacturer of soft tops and fabric accessories for Jeep vehicles and the sole supplier of OEM soft tops for Jeep Wranglers since 1986. Bestop has been a premier brand in the Jeep and 4×4 industry for over 60 years, producing a large variety of accessories including soft tops, doors and windows, powerboards, seats, storage and racks, bumpers, floor liners, tonneau covers and bed covers that are sold through both OE and aftermarket channels. Bestop has a long tradition of providing products that are recognized in the marketplace for their superior design, high quality and innovation which has inspired a loyal customer following. Bestop has been an operating subsidiary of Magna since 1996.

Tom Tuttle, Managing Director at Kinderhook, stated, “We are excited to partner with Magna to execute an organic and acquisition led growth strategy in the Jeep aftermarket. The combination of Bestop’s leading market position, the resources and operational expertise of Magna coupled with Kinderhook’s extensive experience and relationships in the automotive aftermarket uniquely position Bestop to lead a successful consolidation in the Jeep aftermarket. Continued investment in brand development and aggressive product innovation will accelerate Bestop’s growth and facilitate its extension into new and exciting markets and product categories.”

Magna is a leading global automotive supplier with 319 manufacturing operations and 85 product development, engineering and sales centres in 29 countries. Magna has approximately 136,000 employees focused on delivering superior value to their customers through innovative products and processes, and World Class Manufacturing.

“We have enjoyed building a relationship with Kinderhook throughout this process and are confident this partnership will position Bestop to achieve the next phase of its strategic plan,” said Frank Seguin, President of Magna Closures. “We feel the opportunity to partner with Kinderhook and combine its track record of investing in the automotive aftermarket with Magna’s product development and world-class manufacturing capability positions Bestop to strengthen its reputation as a leader in premium Jeep accessories.”

John Larson has assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer concurrent with the closing. Mr. Larson comes to Bestop with a long history of innovation in the automotive market, both from an OEM and aftermarket perspective. Most recently, he served as the President and CEO of Escort Inc., the industry leader in high-performance radar detection devices in North America. Prior to that, Mr. Larson held a number of senior management positions at General Motors including General Manager of the Buick, Pontiac and GMC Truck Divisions. He is currently Lead Independent Director on the Board of KAR Auction Services (NYSE:KAR). “I have long admired the Jeep brand and Bestop one of the preeminent brands in the Jeep industry. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Kinderhook, Magna and the Bestop team to lead the Company in its exciting next phase of growth” said Mr. Larson.

“The investment in Bestop aligns perfectly with Kinderhook’s investment strategy of partnering with world-class management teams to acquire companies who are leaders in their respective niches,” said Paul Cifelli, Managing Director at Kinderhook. “John Larson is a proven leader with a wealth of industry experience and relationships to lead Bestop going forward. We are excited about the opportunity to work with Mr. Larson and the high caliber team Magna has assembled to support their vision for growth for the Company. We are confident that Kinderhook’s proven “buy-and-build” strategy will accelerate the Company’s growth and allow us to build the largest and most diverse supplier of Jeep aftermarket products in the United States.”

Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to Kinderhook. Sidley Austin LLP served as legal counsel to Magna. Financing for the transaction was provided by a debt syndicate led by GE Antares Capital, Babson Capital Management and NewStar Financial.

About Bestop

Headquartered in Louisville, CO, Bestop is the world’s largest manufacturer of soft tops and fabric accessories for Jeep vehicles and sole supplier of factory soft tops on all Jeep Wranglers since 1986. Winner of numerous design and innovation awards from Chrysler/Jeep, Bestop offers the finest replacement soft tops for Jeep, plus a host of related fabric accessories and enthusiast-oriented products for both on and off-road use. The Company’s products have an outstanding reputation in the marketplace for their superior design, innovative solutions and high quality that have inspired a loyal following among both Jeep enthusiasts and casual drivers. For further information please visit:

About Kinderhook Industries

Founded in 2003, Kinderhook Industries is a private equity firm with over $1.25 billion of committed capital and an investment philosophy based on combining senior management and operating experience in a variety of industries with the financial and investment know-how of private equity professionals. Kinderhook primarily makes control investments in companies in which the firm can achieve significant financial, operational and growth improvements. The firm targets orphaned non-core subsidiaries of corporate parents, existing small capitalization public companies lacking institutional support and management-led recapitalizations of entrepreneur-owned companies. By providing access to capital, strategic advice and an extensive network of relationships, Kinderhook Industries has a history of successfully building privately held firms in partnership with management. For more information please visit: