Gryphon Investors (“Gryphon”), a San Francisco-based private equity firm, announced today that it has completed the sale of its portfolio company Washing Systems (“WSI” or “the Company”) to Kao Corporation (“Kao”), a global leader in innovative cleaning solutions and hygiene management. Gryphon initially invested in the company in December 2015. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
WSI is a leading provider of specialty chemicals and technical services to the North American and European textile rental market. In addition to its innovative chemicals and high-touch customer service, the Ohio-based company has a proven track record of environmental stewardship and was the first for-profit enterprise to receive the Platinum Award (the highest award) from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in 2017.
Gryphon’s investment in the Company was a result of its continuing focus on the niche specialty-chemicals sector. During its ownership, Gryphon supported WSI management by increasing the Company’s investments in research and development and new product innovation, business development and sales force expansion, industry-leading customer service, and add-on acquisitions.
Bob Grady, Partner at Gryphon and Head of the firm’s Industrial Growth Group, said, “The strong collaboration between Gryphon and WSI management helped further build the Company’s track record as a high-growth company that is an industry leader in both innovation and customer service. Through this transaction with Kao, Gryphon has achieved its goal of positioning WSI and its customers for continued growth and success.”
John Walroth, President of WSI, added, “WSI is pleased to enter a new phase of growth with the long-term resources and support from such a successful global partner as Kao. We are especially excited to unite with a company that shares our philosophy of investing in product innovation and exceptional customer service. We were very fortunate to have been associated with Gryphon, as their team brought many useful business insights, in addition to capital. During our partnership with Gryphon, we implemented numerous strategic and operational initiatives to create value, including new industry-leading product innovations, continued investment in customer service, a build out of our sales capability, and an attractive acquisition in the wastewater segment.”
Harris Williams acted as a financial advisor to WSI and Gryphon, and Kirkland & Ellis served as Gryphon’s counsel on the transaction.
About Gryphon Investors
Based in San Francisco, Gryphon Investors (www.gryphoninvestors.com) is a leading private equity firm focused on profitably growing and competitively enhancing middle-market companies in partnership with experienced management. For 23 consecutive quarters, Gryphon has been ranked in Preqin’s prestigious quarterly PE report as one of North America’s top-decile buyout firms based on consistency of strong investment returns. Managing over $4 billion of equity investments and capital since 1997, the firm has an extensive track record of leading equity investments of $50 million to $200 million per portfolio company with sales ranging from approximately $100 million to $500 million. Gryphon prioritizes investment opportunities where it can form strong partnerships with owners and executives to build leading companies, utilizing Gryphon’s capital, specialized professional resources, and operational expertise. Gryphon closed its fourth private equity buyout fund, Gryphon IV, L.P., in November 2016 at $1.1 billion, and raised a $100 million captive mezzanine fund, Gryphon Mezzanine Partners, L.P., in August 2017.
Kao creates high-value-added products that enrich the lives of consumers around the world. Through its portfolio of over 20 leading brands such as Jergens, John Frieda, Molton Brown, Oribe, Attack, Bioré, Goldwell, Kanebo, Laurier, Merries and Kao is part of the everyday lives of people in Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe. Combined with its chemical division, which contributes to a wide range of industries, Kao generates about 1,500 billion yen($13.6 billion, at the rate of 110 yen to U.S. dollar) in annual sales. Kao employs about 33,000 people worldwide and has 130 years of history in innovation. Please visit the Kao Group website for updated information. www.kao.com/global/en/
WSI is the leading provider of products and services to the commercial laundry market with an outstanding track record of delivering comprehensive technological innovations and best-in-class service protocols. In addition, WSI, an Ohio-based company, has a proven track record of environmental stewardship, and was the first for-profit enterprise to receive the Platinum Award (the highest award) from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in 2017. For more information, please visit www.washingsystems.com
- Caroline Luz
- Owen Blicksilver Public Relations