Private equity fund invests in driver education company


Courtesy All Star Driver Education

The capital management arm of a local investment banking firm has made its second portfolio company investment.

Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners said it has invested in Ann Arbor-based All Star Driver Education from its Charter Growth Capital Fund (CGCF).

CGCF provided mezzanine debt and an equity co-investment in support of the acquisition, which was led by Birmingham-based HighGrove Companies.

Managed by principals of Charter Capital Partners, CGCF is a targeted $100 million fund that invests up to $5 million of mezzanine debt and/or equity capital into lower middle market companies in the Great Lakes region to support growth, succession or recapitalization.

The investment recapitalized All Star while enabling its current CEO Brent Wall to retain an ownership stake and participate in the continued growth of the company.

“HighGrove and Charter came along at exactly the right time in our company’s journey,” Wall said. “We look forward to propelling our future growth through the guidance and expertise our investors will provide.”

HighGrove founder Sean Roberts called CGCF “the ideal financial partner in this transaction.”

“The Charter team has deep transaction experience in the lower middle market, which made for a seamless closing process, and they will be invaluable as we work to build the company,” Roberts said.

“This acquisition represents a considerable opportunity for growth, and we’re excited to partner with Charter and the All Star team to pursue those opportunities together.”

Hector Bultynck, managing director at Charter Capital Partners, will serve on the All Star board of directors.

“The Charter Growth Capital Fund team is thrilled to partner with HighGrove in this investment,” Bultynck said.

“Having announced the close of our first portfolio company in October (Kalamazoo-based Keystone Solutions Group), making our second investment just two months later confirms our fund thesis that successful lower middle market companies have an unmet need for a flexible debt and equity offering. We are delighted to welcome All Star to our portfolio.”

Detroit-based Bodman, which has a Grand Rapids location, acted as legal counsel to Charter Growth Capital Fund in this transaction.

Charter Capital Partners

Founded in 1989, Charter Capital Partners offers investment banking and private capital investing advisory services, including buy- and sell-side mergers and acquisitions, succession planning, business valuation and capital raise.

Charter Private Capital Management, launched more than a decade ago, is the registered investment adviser arm of the firm, managing numerous venture capital funds and private investment vehicles, including the Michigan Accelerator Fund I, MAF Opportunity Fund, Charter Growth Capital Fund and multiple special purpose entities.

HighGrove Companies

Founded in 2019 by a team of private equity veterans, HighGrove Companies is a private investment firm building a targeted portfolio of lower-middle market companies.

Targeted industries include consumer products, consumer services and business services.

All Star Driver Education

Founded in 1997 with roots dating to 1969, All Star is a provider of driver education services that has graduated more than 200,000 students.

All Star uses its own proprietary, state-certified curricula, training materials and methods for teaching driver safety to teens, adults and seniors.

The company is certified to operate in 16 states.

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