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Blackford Capital names advisory committee for Michigan Prosperity Fund

September 6, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Blackford Capital names advisory committee for Michigan Prosperity Fund
Former Michigan Governor John Engler. Courtesy Blackford Capital

Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital has named a group of Michigan business and political leaders to a new advisory committee for its Michigan Prosperity Fund.

Former Michigan Governor John Engler, Mark A. Murray, Mary Petrovich and David L. Porteous have announced plans to invest in Michigan private equity and join the fund's advisory committee. 

“We are honored to have these four proven leaders launching the advisory board of the Michigan Prosperity Fund,” said Martin Stein, founder and managing partner of Blackford Capital. “All have strong ties to Michigan and have a vested interest in seeing the fund support the state’s economy, through protecting and generating jobs by investing local money in Michigan companies.”

Michigan Prosperity Fund

Blackford Capital, a private equity firm focused on acquiring, managing and building middle market manufacturing, distribution and service companies, created the Michigan Prosperity Fund in 2012 to generate “best-in-class” returns for investors in the state of Michigan, while, at the same time, supporting the Michigan economy by maintaining local ownership of Michigan companies and protecting and creating jobs locally, according to a Blackford announcement.

Since the start of the fund, Blackford Capital has acquired two companies: Custom Profile, based in Grand Rapids, in August 2012 and Mopec, based in metro Detroit, in June this year.

The new advisory committee, which is led by Engler, “are all individuals who have significantly influenced the economy and the quality of life in our state,” said Jeff Helminski, managing director of Blackford Capital. “We are thrilled to be working with them and believe the Michigan Prosperity Fund will benefit tremendously from their insight and guidance.”

John Engler

Engler, who served three terms as Michigan’s governor, is currently the president of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. corporations, where he works to promote policies to enhance U.S. global economic leadership, including a restructuring of the nation’s system of taxation. He previously served six years as the president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of America. He also serves on the boards of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Universal Forest Products.

“I spent the majority of my career working to improve Michigan’s business environment, and in my travels to each of Michigan’s counties, I have seen many terrific small companies headed by talented executives,” Engler said. “My confidence in Blackford’s ability to preserve and expand these companies led me to accept a role as the chairman of the advisory board to Blackford’s Michigan Prosperity Fund. I am excited to help the Blackford team and the owners of Michigan companies provide solutions to both job creation and preservation and the potential it has to be a model nationally.”

Mark A. Murray

Murray is co-CEO and vice chairman of Meijer and, prior to that, was president of Grand Valley State University from 2001-2006. He also served as treasurer for the state of Michigan from 1999 to 2001 and vice president of finance and administration for Michigan State University from 1998 to 1999. Murray also serves on the boards of DTE Energy and Universal Forest Products and is a member of Business Leaders for Michigan.

Mary Petrovich

Petrovich is an operating executive focused on U.S. buyout opportunities in the industrial sector with The Carlyle Group, a $180 billion private equity firm. Previously, she was chairman and CEO of Axle Tech International and, before that, president of Dura Automotive’s global $1 billion Driver Controls unit. Earlier, she held management roles at AlliedSignal, leading several automotive and industrial businesses. Petrovich is on the board of directors of WABCO, Modine Manufacturing Company, GT Advanced Technologies and Woodward, all of which are publicly traded companies. She received her MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BSE in industrial operations engineering from the University of Michigan.

David L. Porteous

Porteous is a partner at McCurdy Wotila & Porteous and is also a consultant with the international law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. He is currently lead director of the board of Huntington Bancshares Inc. and serves on the board of Jackson National Life Insurance Company of New York. Porteous is an authority on economic development and has served on the board of directors of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority and the Michigan Strategic Fund. He is also the former chairman of the board of Michigan State University.

Fund portfolio

Custom Profile is an extruder of plastic profile components and employs 165 people and also operates a facility in Mexico. The company’s primary customers have included Herman Miller, Haworth, Steelcase, Electrolux and Whirlpool. The company was founded in 1992 and has experienced growth both locally and with customers throughout North America.

Mopec was founded in 1992 and employs 75 people at its facility in Oak Park. It serves customers with a wide range of products for the pathology and mortuary market, including the Mayo Clinic, Duke University Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Spectrum Health and the Cleveland Clinic.

Michigan private equity

Private equity investors put $9.6 billion into 50 deals in Michigan last year, according to a report from the Private Equity Growth Council, putting the state 12th in dollar value and 13th in the number of investments.

Private equity and growth

A study conducted in 2012 by the Institute for Exceptional Growth Companies and Pepperdine University found that companies that received private equity investments had a job creation rate that was 257 percent higher than the control group that did not receive private equity funding. The companies also generated revenue that was 129 percent higher than the control group.

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