JLG has acquired Power Towers, the UK-based manufacturer of low level aerial lifts, from its owners Brian and Sandra King and Mark Richardson. No details of the transaction have been disclosed.
The two parties, which have been in discussions for more than 12 months, finally concluded a deal on Friday, with JLG officially acquiring 100 percent of the company’s equity midday yesterday. JLG says that it will run the company as a separate entity within the group, with no immediate changes planned. Power Towers will continue to operate through its existing dealer network and continue with its own new product development and manufacturing programmes.
Brian King said that he and Mark Richardson had been considering the next steps for the company, in terms of growth and development for some time, and that they had concerns over how long it might take them to develop and keep up with expected demand, as the low level powered access market really starts to take off on a global level. They also realised that the more they developed the Power Towers distribution network and expanded the product range, the more challenging any sale or merger with another aerial lift manufacturer would be. So when a tentative approach came from JLG the two were in the right frame of mind to explore options.
King added that the two of them had been very pleasantly surprised with the management team at JLG, in terms of their openness and down to earth approach. Having met most of the senior managers over the past few months, the two felt that JLG could be a surprisingly good owner and partner - one that that they could happily work with and which would offer the Power Towers staff and its distributors/suppliers, a strong and exciting future.
The deal is initially seen by JLG as a ‘European play’ and has been led by the head of JLG Europe, general manager Karel Huijser. He said that when he joined JLG two and half years ago, being new to the access industry, he spent the first year or so simply listening to everyone. One thing that came up regularly from customers was the low level platform market and how it was becoming an increasingly important market sector, one that was not currently in the JLG portfolio. “So having started looking at the market it was not too long before Power Towers came on the radar as a primary focus. After the first tentative meeting and contacts last year it quickly became clear that the company would be an excellent fit with JLG.”
JLG president Frank Nerenhausen added: “This important acquisition strengthens our existing portfolio of low level access lifts and demonstrates our commitment to the European market. The addition of Power Towers products and people allows JLG to become an even stronger partner to our customers.”
While the two companies say that they have discussed possible ways in which they might jointly develop the Power Towers business, they both added that nothing has been decided and that now that the deal has been done they will develop the initial strategies together over the next 60 to 90 days or so. But both were crystal clear that it was business as usual at Power Towers.
Power Towers operates from two facilities in Wigston, Leicester, one for the manually powered Pecolift and the other for the Power Tower and Nano product lines. One of them is owned and the other leased. The company does not publish its profit and loss details, but is clearly very profitable and had net assets of £2.5 million and over £2 million of positive working capital as of August last year. It has a working population of over 12,000 Power Towers and employs 28.
This is certainly a good move for Power Towers. It allows the two owners to cash in their investment and hard work of the past eight years, while the company is still in a market leading position. At the same time something that will be of equal importance to them both will be the fact that they can continue to build their ‘baby’ into a true world class player in the access market, and develop the new products that they have on the drawing board and in their minds.
The JLG brand will also open doors rapidly for them in markets that would have taken a decade or more to get established, such as the USA and parts of Asia. JLG seems to be very serious about keeping the business at arms length and is looking to gain some knock-on benefits for its portable, industrial and institutional product lines. It is under no illusion that a lot of what it is acquiring consists of intellectual and technical know-how at the smaller end of the market, where things are done differently. It seems determined to keep that smaller, more entrepreneurial spark alive - and even kicking - at Power Towers.
It is of course early days, but the signs are that this deal could be a real winner for both parties.