Knape Vogt grows with Illinois acquisition

January 14, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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Knape & Vogt Manufacturing Co., one of West Michigan’s oldest manufacturing firms, just made its third acquisition since being acquired in 2006 by a Chicago private equity firm.

Knape & Vogt announced last week it has acquired John Sterling Corp. in Richmond, Ill. Sterling is a manufacturer and marketer of functional and decorative home storage and organization products, including closet, shelving, and garage hardware. Sterling also has a line of sliding door hardware for residential and commercial applications.

“The acquisition of John Sterling will provide Knape & Vogt with an expanded presence in our retail and distribution channels within our core product categories,” said Peter Martin, president and CEO of Knape & Vogt, 2700 Oak Industrial Drive in northeast Grand Rapids.

Martin said Sterling’s door hardware business represents a new market category for KV and access to new commercial and residential hardware distributors and end users.

John Sterling, previous owner and president of John Sterling Corp., is the third generation family member to lead the Sterling organization. He will remain with the company for several months to help manage the transition, and plans to retire sometime during 2011.

KV was founded in Grand Rapids in 1898, according to Peter Ross, vice president of marketing and product development. The company makes functional hardware, storage-related components and ergonomic products for original equipment manufacturers, specialty distributors, office products dealers, hardware chains and major home centers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Major product lines include the KV brand drawer slides, GSlide brand drawer slides, and Workrite brand ergonomic office products.

Ross said KV has sales in excess of $150 million. The company has around 500 employees in Grand Rapids plus a sales force of about 70 in the field.

The company was purchased in 2006 by Wind Point Partners of Chicago, which also acquired Hearthside Food Solutions, a contract bakery on Broadmoor Avenue in Kentwood, in 2009.

Ross said KV has now acquired three smaller companies since Wind Point Partners took over. The first was in 2007, when it acquired Workrite Ergonomics in Petaluma, Cal., which was founded in 1991 and makes height-adjustable office work surfaces and other ergonomic accessories.

The second was one year ago; GSlide Corp. of Taipei, Taiwan. That company designs and manufactures sliding system products sold to distributors and manufacturers in Asia, Europe and North America.

At the same time, KV announced the introduction of MuV, a new under-mount drawer slide device which would be produced at GSlide.

Ross said KV “certainly had our share of difficulties with the recession, like everyone else did, but the business is recovering nicely and we see several of our channels of distribution improving pretty well.”

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