Quad-C Management, a private equity firm based in Charlottesville, Va., reportedly has purchased Balboa Instruments Inc. and G/G Industries, two manufacturers of pool and spa components.
The deal was finalized around June 1, according to sources familiar with the transaction. Officials at Balboa and G/G declined to comment on the sale, and representatives from Quad-C did not return phone calls by press time.
“I don’t think anyone knows why it was so quiet,” said an industry executive who asked that his name not be published. “I don’t think it really matters to customers that much. We’re more concerned about the product and the service.”
No formal announcement of the deal came from any of the firms involved. Indeed, the only evidence of common ownership between Balboa and G/G is the fact that the Web pages of the two businesses now link to each other.
This would not be Quad-C’s first foray into the industry. The company acquired Polaris Pool Systems in 1999, and grew its value nearly fourfold — from $66.5 million to $257.7 million — in just five years, according to figures published on Quad-C’s Web site.
This latest purchase reflects a growing trend of outside investors entering the pool and spa business. Recent deals include:
- 2007: Apollo Management, LP, finalized its purchase of Jacuzzi Brands Inc. for $1.25 billion.
- 2006: The Carlyle Group partnered with Zodiac to acquire Water Pik Technologies Inc., parent company of Jandy.
- Prospect Partners, LLC, acquired Presidential Pools & Spas.
- 2005: Tri-Artisan Capital Partners, LLC, and Lincolnshire Management Inc. invested in Paddock Pools Patios and Spas.
Several customers of Balboa and G/G said that they had heard rumors of an acquisition before it transpired. They also stated they have experienced no difference in the quality of service since the companies were sold and think, overall, that private equity firms spell good news for the pool and spa industry.
“[When they invest], they’re saying that this industry is about to take off,” said Craig Lundman, vice president of sales at Beachcomber Hot Tubs Inc., based in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. “The only thing missing is Vitamin M — the money it takes to get a company to the next level.”
Industry insiders also speculated that Quad-C will either combine Balboa and G/G, or acquire other makers of pool and spa components and form a bigger umbrella company that can go public.
“What these private equity firms want to do is put enough of these pieces together and now they’re ready for an IPO,” Lundman said. “They don’t have to change the bottom line. They just have to put them together and it’s a whole different animal.”