A look back at M&A in Central PA

The past year has been a busy one for mergers and acquisitions in Central Pennsylvania.

Take a closer look at the action in this month-by-month recap for 2021. Unless otherwise indicated, the deal terms were not disclosed.


January:

  • U-GRO Learning Centres, a Derry Township-based preschool chain, was purchased by Michigan-based Learning Care Group, one of the country’s biggest for-profit providers of early childhood education. U-GRO was founded in 1973 by Janice Holsinger as a church-based nursery school. Her son, Greg, had been the company’s president and CEO.

  • Home remodeling company West Shore Home purchased Alabama-based C&C Enterprises, which did business as NewBath Alabama. West Shore Home followed up in March with the acquisition of Maryland-based Herl’s Bath and Home Solutions. In April, the company bought Tennessee-based HullCo Inc. In November, it purchased Virginia-based Skyline Windows of Richmond.

  • Utz Brands paid about $25 million to buy the brand and delivery routes of Vitner’s, a Chicago-area snack brand owned by Snak-King Corp. That was followed in May by the $41 million purchase of tortilla chip company Festida Foods and the $56 million purchase in November of R.W. Garcia Holdings, which also makes tortilla chips.

  • Ritter Insurance Marketing, based in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County. Ibought HTA Financial Services in Exton. In August, Ritter added Florida-based Executive Resource Insurance Network. Ritter provides independent insurance agents with back-office technology and services, as well as access to Medicare insurers. It is backed by a minority private-equity investor, Century Equity Partners.

  • Lancaster-based insurance brokerage Murray Insurance was sold to AssuredPartners, a Florida-based operator of independent insurance agencies. In addition to its Lancaster HQ, Murray has offices in Quarryville, Mechanicsburg, Shamokin, Ashland and Sterling, Virginia.

February:

  • Pixelle Specialty Solutions, a Spring Grove-based paper company, scooped up specialty paper lines from Appvion Operations Inc. The lines were carbonless rolls, used for things like receipts, and security papers, which incorporate features designed to reduce fraud. Pixelle is the former specialty papers division of Glatfelter.

  • Herculite Products, a fabrics manufacturer in Emigsville, purchased the laminated fabrics division of a North Carolina firm, Burlan Manufacturing. Herculite makes fabrics for health care, military and other uses, as well as for tents and awnings.

March:

  • Lancaster Fine Foods was purchased by California-based Stir Foods, which is backed by Wind Point Partners, a private equity firm in Chicago. In August, Stir Foods announced it was investing $4 million in the Lancaster Fine Foods plant in East Hempfield Township. The expansion project is expected to create about 100 jobs.

April:

  • California-based Century Park Capital Partners recapitalized CJ Pony Parts in a transaction that left the Los Angeles-based private equity firm with more than a 50% share in one of Central Pennsylvania’s entrepreneurial success stories. Based in West Hanover Township, Dauphin County, CJ Pony Parts is an ecommerce company that specializes in aftermarket parts for Ford Mustang sports cars and other vehicles.

  • Radnor-based NewSpring Capital bought a majority stake in Duck Donuts, a food business born in 2007 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina but based in Hampden Township, Cumberland County. Founder Russ DiGilio retained a stake in the company; former COO Betsy Hamm was named CEO.

  • PensionPro, a financial software firm in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, was sold to Mid Atlantic Capital Group, a Pittsburgh-based firm that sells technology solutions to financial services companies. PensionPro was founded in 2010 by Renee Conner.

  • Family-owned Neffsville Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Services in Lancaster County was sold to Baltimore-based Len The Plumber, which is owned by a St. Louis-based private equity firm, Thompson Street Capital Partners.

  • Harrisburg-based holding company HB Global bought Phoenix-based plumbing company Nash Mechanical. That deal was followed by another in December, when HB Global bought The Bell Company, a Rochester, New York-based firm that specializes in heavy, complex mechanical and plumbing construction projects. Bell has three subsidiaries — Bell BCI Co., Bell Constructors and John P. Bell & Sons — with locations in Baltimore; Charleston, South Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia.

  • Philadelphia Mixing Solutions, a Palmyra-based manufacturer, was sold to North Carolina-based SPX Flow in a cash deal valued at $65 million. Both companies make equipment used in mixing operations in industries like food, pharmaceuticals, wastewater and chemicals. Philadelphia Mixing had been owned by Thunder Basin Corp., an affiliate of private equity firm Wind River Holdings, based in King of Prussia.

May:

  • Hempt Bros., based in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County was purchased by New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co., which is based in New Enterprise, a small town in Bedford County. Hempt Bros. is one of the oldest contractors in the Harrisburg area. The company was founded in 1925 as a supplier of stone, sand, asphalt, concrete and other building materials, according to its website.

  • The Hershey Co. paid $425 million for Lily’s, a boutique candy maker based in Colorado. Hershey followed up in November with a $1.2 billion purchase of two pretzel companies: North Dakota-based Dot’s Pretzels LLC and contract manufacturer Pretzels Inc.

  • Bell Insurance, a regional insurance agency with offices in Chambersburg, Greensburg, Hanover, Harrisburg and Shippensburg,was purchased by Alera Group, an Illinois-based insurance and wealth management company. Alera, which makes multiple deals a year, returned in December with the purchase of Benefit Design Specialists Inc., an employee benefits firm based in Upper Allen Township, Cumberland County.

June:

  • York-based Wolf Home Products was purchased by Texas-based PrimeSource Brands, a building products supplier backed by California-based Clearlake Capital Group. The 178-year-old company had been led by Gov. Tom Wolf before he ran for governor.

  • Lancaster-based SlateHouse Property Management and Realty merged with California-based Home365. Operating as Home365, the two companies hope to create a national property management company backed by technology.

  • Shiremanstown-based truck parts manufacturer Dayton Parts LLC was sold for $338 million to Dorman Products, based in Colmar, Montgomery County. Dorman said the deal expands its ability to make and supply aftermarket parts for heavy-duty trucks.

  • Lasso Healthcare, a boutique health insurer based in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County, was sold to Zing Health Enterprises, a Chicago-based insurer founded in 2019. Both insurers offer Medicare Advantage plans for Medicare beneficiaries. Founded in 2018, Lasso focuses on people in rural areas. Its founder is Craig Ritter, who also is head of Ritter Insurance Marketing, an insurance services firm based in Susquehanna Township.

July:

  • Susquehanna Insurance, an independent insurance agency in Lancaster, purchased a Lititz-based neighbor, Affinity Insurance Associates. Susquehanna sells both commercial and personal policies. Affinity specialized in personal policies.

August:

  • Candoris, based in North Annville Township, Lebanon County, was purchased by a New York-based company called Computer Design & Integration, or CDI. Both companies work as something of a go-between for companies looking to integrate digital tools and services from vendors like Salesforce and VMware, a cloud computing company. Candoris was founded in 2011 by brothers Lucas and Stephan Van Der Ploog.

  • C-P Flexible Packaging, a packaging maker in Manchester Township, York County, purchased a smaller firm called Prestige-Pak, based in Wisconsin. Backed by New York-based private equity firm First Atlantic Capital, C-P Flexible also bought a pair of related packaging companies in California: Fruth Custom Packaging and Cleanroom Film and Bag. In October, C-P purchased Georgia-based Sycamore Sales, which does business as Preferred Packaging.

  • AHF Products, a flooring maker based in West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, bought a smaller rival, American OEM. American OEM operates a factory in Tennessee and makes engineered hardwood flooring under the brands Raintree, Hearthwood and Emily Morrow Home. In November, AHF owner American Industrial Partners said it would sell the company to an investment firm affiliated with Dallas-based Paceline Equity Partners. The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022. AHF is the former hardwood flooring arm of Armstrong Flooring.

September:

  • Enginuity, an HVAC contractor based in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, was sold to a subsidiary of GDI Integrated Facility Services, a Canadian company that provides janitorial, HVAC, electrical and related services to commercial buildings. The GDI subsidiary, Ainsworth, is looking to expand its HVAC work in the United States.

  • Richmond-based Universal Corp. paid $100 million in cash for Shank’s Extracts and folded the longtime Lancaster County company into a growing plant-based ingredients business. Universal forked over an additional $13.325 million in cash for Shank’s real estate, which includes a 191,000-square-foot manufacturing campus at 350 Richardson Drive in East Hempfield Township, according to a regulatory filing. Shank’s employs more than 200 people.

  • Dawood Engineering, based in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, purchased a company in Poland that specializes in building information modeling, a way of showing digital building designs in 3D. The company, ArchiTube, was the first overseas acquisition for Dawood. Based in Czestochowa in southern Poland, ArchiTube employs 10 people.

October:

  • WebFX, a digital marketing agency based in Harrisburg, brought on an outside investor to fuel its growth. The investor, Trilantic North America, is a private equity firm with offices in New York City and Austin, Texas. The deal was described as a “capital partnership.”

  • Harrisburg-based wealth management firm FMA Advisory was sold to Fairport Wealth, the Cleveland-based arm of a larger advisory firm in Chicago called Hightower. FMA was founded in 1981 by Peter LaBella, one of the first advisers in the region to adopt a fee-based payment structure based on the assets of clients – rather than a commission structure based on selling products.

  • Harbor Compliance, a fast-growing software firm in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, purchased a company called Labyrinth, which has dual headquarters in Carlsbad, California, and Rockville, Maryland. The deal was the first-ever acquisition for Harbor. Both Harbor and Labyrinth specialize in helping nonprofits stay on top of regulatory requirements. Harbor’s software and services streamline nonprofit licensing and registration with federal, state and local governments. Labyrinth manages state registrations for nonprofits so they can raise funds nationwide.

November:

  • Harrisburg-based K&D Factory Service and its Maine-based subsidiary were sold to Illinois-based PT Holdings LLC. Founded in 1945, K&D specializes in service and repair of commercial kitchen equipment. PT Holdings, which does business as Parts Town, is in the same field. K&D has branch offices in Allentown, Altoona, Lancaster, Scranton, Williamsport and York.

  • Garden Spot Frame & Alignment, a heavy duty truck repair and service business based in East Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, was purchased by FleetPride, a larger, Texas-based company in the same business. Founded in 1947, Garden Spot has additional locations in Upper Leacock, East Lampeter and East Earl townships in Lancaster County.

  • Triangle Refrigeration, a Leola-based HVAC company, was sold to CoolSys, a larger HVAC company based in California. CoolSys employs more than 3,000 people across the country and generally operates acquired companies under their original names, though some have adopted the CoolSys brand. In addition to its main office, Triangle has a heating and air conditioning division in the Brownstown area, as well as a refrigeration and operations center in Lititz.

  • PennSpring Capital, a Lancaster-based private equity firm, sold one of its portfolio companies and bought a majority stake in another company. On the sell side, PennSpring unloaded Oregon-based marketing technology firm Securus Contact Systems to New York-based Signpost, also a marketing technology company. On the buy side, PennSpring bought a majority stake in text marketing firm Mobiniti, which is based in Wilkes-Barre.

  • Millersburg-based Mid Penn Bancorp closed on its roughly $124.7 million acquisition of Riverview Financial, a smaller bank based in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County. The deal brought Mid Penn to $4.7 billion in assets but it also is leading to the closure of 17 branches across the bank’s territory.

  • RKL LLP, a regional accounting and consulting firm based in Lancaster County, acquired Stoudt Associates, a smaller CPA firm in the Lehigh Valley. In December, RKL followed up with the announcement of a merger with Chambersburg-based Rotz & Stonesifer. That merger is slated to take effect Jan. 1. The two deals extend RKL’s footprint into the Lehigh Valley and into Adams and Franklin counties.

December:

  • Yarnell Security Systems, a family-owned company in Lancaster County, was sold to Pye-Barker Fire & Safety, a fast-growing Atlanta-based company with operations around the U.S. Yarnell Security was founded in 1967 by the late Harold Yarnell Jr. Based in East Lampeter Township, the company provides monitoring and security systems for homes and businesses in Central Pennsylvania.

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