MACEDONIA, Ohio—CEO Jeff Crane was brought into TPC Wire & Cable Corp. in 2016 with a clear directive: Accelerate growth via acquisition and new sales.
Three years into his leadership tenure, Crane appears to be fulfilling that mission—and doing it well.
The Macedonia maker of ruggedized wire, cable and connectors has acquired five companies since Crane's appointment, including four deals in the past 10 months. While he declined to disclose sales figures, Crane said revenue has doubled since 2015. In that same time period, employment surged from 165 to 380.
And TPC intends to keep the ball rolling.
"We think the funnel and the opportunities are such that we could keep up that pace," Crane said, adding that there are enough acquisition targets in the North American market alone "to reasonably think we could double in size again in another three years."
TPC provides industrial wire and cable products used in harsh environments, such as high-temperature steel mills, and/or where the cost of failure is high, like missile defense systems.
Much of the company's acquisition strategy to date, according to Crane, has involved finding small and midsize businesses that share its product space but provide entry into new markets. The November 2018 purchase of Milrail Inc. of Quebec, for example, got TPC into rail applications.
"We are taking what Milrail does primarily for Canadian rail transit customers, such as subway systems, and bringing that to a broader base of U.S. customers through the resources that TPC has," he said.
Likewise, TPC acquired both Valencia, Calif.-based Cicoil L.L.C. and Pittsburgh Wire and Cable in October. Those buys give TPC a foothold in aerospace and military end markets in the case of Cicoil and in industries like video inspection and mining in the case of Pittsburgh Wire and Cable.
"Interestingly, Cicoil and the EZ Form (Cable Corp.) acquisition that we did in June do give us some unique manufacturing capabilities, so there is a little element of vertical integration that we accomplished with both of those acquisitions as well. But for the most part, what the core of the acquired companies do is similar to the core of what TPC does," Crane said.
The deal wave has increased the size of TPC's footprint. Only one of its acquired businesses—Electra Cord Inc., formerly of Massillon, Ohio—was folded into the Macedonia headquarters. Crane said the Valley View Road plant was expanded to 120,000 square feet in 2017 to accommodate Electra Cord's production lines and staff. About 150 employees now work at the Macedonia site.
The others have remained in place, meaning the company currently has operations on both U.S. coasts and in Canada and Mexico. It acquired Mexico City's Enersave Wire & Cable shortly before Crane came aboard, and EZ Form is based in Hamden, Conn.
TPC has limited distribution overseas, he said, but remains focused on North America, where it derives roughly 90 percent of its sales.
Organic growth has been another component of TPC's expansion efforts. Crane established a strategic account team early on to facilitate relationships with satellite locations of some of it largest customers.
In some cases, the company would be doing really well on sales to one Ford assembly plant, for example, but not so hot in other plants.
"That strategic account initiative is to help us learn what we do really well at one site and how we can replicate it at the other sites," he said.
Middle market investor Audax Group of Boston owns TPC. It bought the company in May 2015 from Pfingsten Partners L.L.C. of Chicago for an undisclosed price. The investment group has a strong track record of aggressive add-on acquisition strategies. According to its website, Audax Private Equity has invested over $5 billion in 126 platforms and 774 add-on companies.
Crane said TPC does "keep an eye out" for companies that it can integrate along its supply chain and distribution channels, but will primarily remain focused on targets that mirror its product expertise.