TMB Exits Fuel Systems

February 27, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Now that the firm that brought equity group TMB Industries to Grand Rapids is back on its feet, the turnaround specialist is exiting the venture and anxiously awaiting its next local project.

TMB sold Grand Rapids automotive supplier Fuel Systems LLC to Dallas-based Brazos Private Equity Partners LLC for an undisclosed amount.

"I'm going to stay in West Michigan," said Tim Masek, TMB partner and former chairman of Fuel Systems LLC. During the Fuel Systems turnaround, Masek relocated his family from Chicago to East Grand Rapids. "We like Grand Rapids. TMB Industries is committed to finding more transactions in West Michigan. We're staying here."

Last year, the firm added Holland boat maker Grand-Craft to its portfolio. Masek indicated that he currently has a letter-of-intent signed for another local company, an automotive supplier.

"We firmly believe that we have one that will close here in a few weeks, maybe a month," he said. "We plan to invest capital in that company, grow it, add jobs and increase its viability."

The Chicago-based TMB acquired Fuel Systems from Borg Warner in 2001, then a grossly unprofitable interest for the German conglomerate. An aggressive realignment campaign improved operations, shifted production (closing a few plants and acquiring others), and improved relationships with customers and suppliers.

The manufacturer of fuel tanks for light- to heavy-duty truck markets currently employs 400 in facilities in Walker, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina and Illinois

It marks one of TMB's most successful turnarounds ever.

"I guess it isn't all doom and gloom in the automotive industry after all," Masek said.

From a personal standpoint, Masek was proud of the company's implementation of a bonus program for all employees. Previously, only a handful of executives were eligible for bonuses.

President and CEO Keith Carpenter will remain at the helm of the company under the new ownership.    

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