Partners form private equity firm


Jeff Helminski, left, Jack Kolodny and Fred Tedori stand together for a shot. Courtesy Auxo Investment Partners

A trio of private equity veterans have started a new firm in Grand Rapids.

Jeff Helminski, Jack Kolodny and Fred Tedori announced today the launch of Auxo Investment Partners, a private equity firm with a focus on long-term investments in small businesses.


The new firm's investment philosophy forgoes pre-determined timeframes for investment returns.

Auxo said it adheres to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing and has committed to folding in "environmental, social and governance concerns" into each of its investments.

Auxo is looking to partner with companies that meet a set of criteria: are based in North America; operate in manufacturing, industrial, value-added distribution or business services; have cash flow between $1.5 million and $15 million; have owner-operators who are looking to retire, implement family succession plans or looking to expand; and prefer majority-controlled investments.

Founding capital

Auxo plans to raise about $50 million in equity, which it will combine with co-investments and leverage to acquire 10 to 15 companies over the next five years.

Capital for Auxo will come from a group of "founding partners" who will invest in both the firm and its portfolio companies. The has secured commitments "amounting to half of its equity target" and is in the process of securing more founding partners. Founding partners will receive "all economic benefits generated by Auxo," including carried interest and fees.

"We view ourselves not just as investors but as stewards — of our founding partners’ capital and of the legacies of our portfolio companies and their owners,” Helminski said. 

The founders

Founders Helminski, Kolodny and Tedori will serve as the firm's management partners, carrying out its investment strategy.

Helminski and Kolodny previously worked together as managing directors at Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital, where they collaborated with Tedori on several investments.

In his 20-year career, Helminski has gained experience in private equity investing, manufacturing engineering, high-volume assembly operations and real estate development. In addition to his role as managing director at Blackford, Helminski led the firm’s fundraising and was active in deal execution. He holds an M.B.A. from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, a master’s in engineering from Purdue University and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University.

Kolodny led Blackford’s portfolio company team, working directly with companies. Kolodny has an M.B.A. from Stanford’s School of Business and has B.A. and B.E. degrees from Dartmouth University.

Tedori has nearly four decades of experience as an entrepreneur, previously serving as founder and CEO of several industrial companies, including Plastibag, U.S. Tape and Enterplast. Tedori has an M.B.A. and B.S. in chemistry from Temple University.

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