2021 Newsmaker: Martin Stein

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Martin Stein

Founder, Managing Director

Blackford Capital

Private equity investing boomed in 2021, and Blackford Capital was in on the action.

The Grand Rapids-based firm in November was named Private Equity Firm of the Year by The M&A Advisor, and the 2021 majority acquisition of Aqua-Leisure also snagged the M&A Advisor’s Private Equity Deal of the Year award in the $50 million-$75 million category.

“2021 (was) a tremendous year for Blackford — our team completed more transactions than ever before and (is) operating 11 portfolio companies in three countries. This honor is an affirmation of our amazing team, who are completing more transactions per investment professional than just about any other PE firm in the country,” Stein said after the M&A Advisor awards.

In March, Blackford participated in the merger of Vertically Integrated Products and Boston Trade International to form the new entity Boston Trade Interior Solutions (BTIS), of which Blackford is part-owner. By July, Blackford partnered with BTIS to acquire Design Environments, and in November, Blackford rounded out its professional interior design; procurement; and furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) supply group with the acquisition of ID Collaborative. 

Amid the pandemic-induced supply chain shortages, in July, Blackford hired an operating partner for sourcing in Asia, Steve Feniger, a move that allows Blackford’s portfolio companies to “do better than our competitors on the supply chain” through visits to suppliers to ensure timeliness and quality, Stein said.

The firm last year also expanded its watersports, marine, and pool and float categories with the acquisition of Airhead Sports Group by its portfolio company Aqua-Leisure.

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