EMED Acquired by Summit Partners

The founders of EMED Inc., Buffalo, NY, a manufacturer and direct marketer of safety signage, this week sold a majority stake in the company to Summit Partners, Boston, to prepare for their retirement and to better position the company for growth opportunities. The terms were not disclosed.

EMED manufactures and distributes more than 72,000 safety communication products — warning signs for chemical plants, for example — throughout the United States through multiple business-to-business catalogs and its Web site (www.emedco.com). The company said it had 1998 revenues of about $52 million.

“We're confident that Summit is the right party to help us take advantage of strategic opportunities,” said Paul Steinwachs, president of EMED, who co-founded the company with his brother, Donald.

Summit is a private equity firm that has brought more than 50 companies public since 1994. Among its previous acquisitions in the direct arena were Wilmar Industries, a marketer of cleaning products and other goods for commercial buildings, and Suburban Ostomy, a catalog marketer of healthcare supplies for businesses and individuals.

Thomas Cagnina, managing director of Gruppo, Levey & Co., New York, the investment bank for EMED, said EMED's founders saw the need for ownership that would lead the company on a more aggressive growth path. Possible expansion opportunities for EMED include marketing new products to existing customers, acquiring companies in related businesses or developing an international presence.

One of the company's primary competitors, the Seton division of Brady Corp., has grown significantly by expanding overseas during the past several years, while EMED has concentrated on domestic business.

The Steinwachs are expected to remain with EMED during a transitional period, and much of the management infrastructure of the company is expected to remain in place, Cagnina said.

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