Private equity buyouts continue

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Hello everyone,

Last week, we saw yet another example of the trend toward smaller businesses being acquired by private equity.

This trend has been going on for years, thanks in part to low interest rates that allow firms to quickly raise funds and pay premium prices.

Duffield Associates – a Pike Creek-based regional engineering company that focuses on environmental work – has affiliated with an investment firm that is investing in a “roll-up of engineering companies with an environmental focus.

New owner or partner Round Table seems to be doing things the right way. A release indicates that the parent company will keep Duffield’s management in place.

Duffield management will get an owner with deeper pockets. It will also become part of a network of affiliated companies (so far there’s three) with broad expertise and a diversified customer base.

Duffield shareholders will be rewarded for the risks and hard work that come with building a successful business.

Something can be lost along the way, often in the form of community interaction, whether it’ volunteer work, contributions to local nonprofits or participation in economic development efforts.

This work takes time, energy, and long hours for small and large companies that in this bottom-line era do not have the spare staff to offer. Often, there is little direct return on investment.

Sometimes good things emerge from roll-ups and buyouts.

Not that long ago, Richard Piendak sold Richards Paving, a company with a commercial paving operation and a strategically placed hot mix plant.

Piendak stayed on for a time with the new owner, but later launched Donate Delaware, an organization that continues to gather and distribute badly needed personal protective equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hope is that we see more community such efforts as local companies reach that next stage in the business cycle. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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