• Credit: Roman Fountains

Fountain manufacturer, designer and contractor Roman Fountains has been purchased.

Effective last month, Manufacturing Futures Inc., a Shaker Heights, Ohio, holding company specializing in manufacturing firms, acquired Roman Fountains.

David O’Halloran, Manufacturing Futures’ owner, will serve as Roman Fountains’ president.

“They had a good track record of strategic growth experience and operational skills to help this company grow to the next level,” said Jon Mitovich, the longtime owner and president of Roman Fountains.

Mitovich now will serve in an advisory role for the next six to 12 months as the firm makes its transition. “Ultimately we want to have as seamless, uninterrupted and consistent a transition in the eyes of our customers as we possibly can make it,” Mitovich said. “That’s where I’m focused.”

In addition, two key staff members have seen their leadership roles expanded to help move the company forward. Tom Hanson, sales vice president, now will assume responsibility for customer relations and systems engineering teams. Rob Astorga, Roman Fountains’ operations manager, will serve as site leader in the company’s Albuquerque facility and will lead operations, systems quality and validation, systems shipping and service parts fulfillment. He also will continue his current roles in the company’s business system, design innovation and customer service teams.

The remainder of the manufacturers’ staff is expected to stay on at the firm’s facilities in Albuquerque and Atlanta, with new hires also planned. “We expect to be expanding our sales and marketing team and our engineering staff,” O’Halloran said.

This is the first purchase for Manufacturing Futures and O’Halloran, who specialized in manufacturing in his nearly 20 years with McKinsey & Co., a New York-based global management consulting firm.

Mitovich joined Roman Fountains as its general manager in 1977, shortly after graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He was promoted to vice president and then purchased the firm in 1993, becoming its president.

The company started out in 1959 as a boutique backyard fountain firm largely focused on mail-order sales, but when Mitovich came on board, he and the owners took advantage of the commercial waterfeature market, designing one-of-a-kind architectural projects.

Under Mitovich’s stewardship, the manufacturer expanded its product selection in the late 1990s to include easily installable features to accompany pools or stand alone on residential properties. “We noticed over time that we were getting more and more orders from swimming pool industry-related companies for some of our products — nozzles, lights, small fountain kits and whatnot,” Mitovich said. “We were not really marketing to the swimming pool companies, but we felt that because of the makeup of a lot of our orders, there was a need out there.”

Now the company, which generates sales in excess of $6 million per year, is developing a long-term plan that will help it double in the next three years.

This can take place through organic growth as well as acquisitions. “Organically would be our strong preference, but partnerships and close working relationships both upstream and downstream, and acquisitions are all part of that,” O’Halloran said.

That may also mean entering new markets. “I think there are a number of areas where Roman Fountains works, but hasn’t reached its full potential yet,” he added. “Some people might call that entering into new, related industries; other people might just say energizing their old efforts. We expect to be thinking about those things carefully and making good, smart, prioritized choices.”

Mitovich and his family made it a goal for him to sell the company before his 60th birthday this summer so he could make room for some other life aspirations. “[But] we waited and made sure that we had the right potential buyer in place for the employees’ and the company’s sake, so we can take this company to the next logical level,” he said.

As for the next phase in his life, Mitovich plans to travel with his wife, Karla; potentially climb Mount Kilimanjaro with his youngest son; travel to Antarctica with his middle son; and continue writing children’s books, which at one time was a hobby. He also leaves open the possibility of participating in the fountain industry.

“I’m not sure I’ll ever be finished-finished,” Mitovich said. “This is basically all I’ve ever known since I’ve been out of college. What the new owners have in store for me is to be the point man, continuing to focus on the swimming pool market into the near future. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see. I have a lot of things in my bucket list that need attending to.”