Kinderhook Industries, LLC has announced the formation of a new performance parts platform, Race Winning Brands through the acquisition of Performance Motorsports International from Dover Corporation. As part of the transaction, Dover will maintain a minority ownership stake in Race Winning Brands. This is Kinderhook’s 40th automotive aftermarket acquisition since inception and the third public / private equity partnership completed in the past 24 months. Kinderhook has acquired JE Pistons, Wiseco, Innovate Motorsports, K1 and ProX Racing as a result of the deal with PMI. Headquartered in Mentor, Ohio, Race Winning Brands is a manufacturer of performance and racing pistons and related engine components for the automotive and powersports performance markets.
Brian Reese, Kinderhook operating partner, former vice president of COMP Performance Group and most recently divisional vice president of Sears Holdings Corporation, will be joining Race Winning Brands as the CEO. Reese has over 20 years of experience fueling premium brands with innovative products and serving customers with best-in-class support in the automotive performance market. “I have long admired PMI and considered their brands as preeminent leaders in the automotive and powersports performance markets. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Kinderhook and the management team to lead Race Winning Brands in its next phase of growth,” said Reese.
“We are extremely excited to add Race Winning Brands to our automotive aftermarket franchise,” said Tom Tuttle, managing director at Kinderhook. “Race Winning Brands is a market leader with its focus on innovation, quality, and customer service. As part of our investment, we are adding to the company Brian Reese, an industry insider, and additional operating partners with whom we have worked extensively in the automotive aftermarket.”
Bob Romanelli, a Kinderhook operating partner, will be joining Race Winning Brands as executive chairman. Mr. Romanelli has over 30 years of industry experience, including previously serving as president and CEO of the Mr. Gasket Performance Group, COO of RAM Products, Inc., and as director of operations of Echlin’s Fuel Systems Group. Romanelli was intimately involved in Kinderhook’s investment in Truck Hero, and remains actively involved in Kinderhook’s automotive aftermarket investments; Superwinch and Bestop. “As an active member of the automotive industry, both as an executive and as a racer, I have always been impressed with PMI,” stated Romanelli. “As Chairman of the Board, I look forward to working alongside Kinderhook and the management team to complete strategic acquisitions across the automotive and powersports performance markets.”
As part of the transaction, Kinderhook will also be adding David Ropp, a Kinderhook operating partner, to the Board of Directors. Ropp has over 35 years of industry experience, including previously serving as president and CEO of Dover Industrial Products, a former segment of Dover, and director of operations of Ingersoll-Rand. Ropp currently serves on the board of directors of Superwinch, a Kinderhook portfolio company manufacturing industry leading winches for off-road enthusiasts. “PMI is a recognized market leader within the automotive and powersports performance markets,” said Ropp. “Through the Company’s new partnership with Kinderhook, we will continue to grow and lead the industry with innovative product offerings and world-class manufacturing capabilities.”
Paul Cifelli, managing director at Kinderhook, stated, “A fundamental tenet of Kinderhook’s investment philosophy is identifying unique investment opportunities where our experience, abilities and network of operating partners can help create value. Race Winning Brands aligns perfectly with this investment philosophy. We are confident that Kinderhook’s proven ‘buy-and-build’ strategy will allow us to expand RWB’s leadership position in the automotive and powersports performance markets.”
Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to Kinderhook. Financing for the transaction was provided by a debt syndicate led by Antares Capital, Varagon Capital Partners, Madison Capital, and NewStar Financial.