Mergers and acquisitions have been on the rise in the aviation ground support industry over the last few years. GSE Today's interview with Arthur Goodwin of Taylor-Dunn Corporation offers that there are definite strategies to M&A
By Michelle Garetson
Arthur "Jim" Goodwin, President and CEO of
Taylor-Dunn Corporation, approaches joint ventures and business acquisitions
in a manner that
would make many shy away from such deals. He purchased the commercial and industrial
vehicle company, when it was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1990 —
a year when this country was entering one of the worst recessions since the
mid-1930s. "It got pretty bad," Goodwin recalls, "but once again,
we focused on servicing the customer and being solutions-oriented as opposed
In a recent interview with GSE Today, Goodwin explains the how and the why of Taylor-Dunn's past deals as well as some of the strategies involved with those slated for the future.
How it is that you've decided to go ahead with the acquisition strategy to build your business?
basically looked at the industry we're in, the personnel / burden carrying industry
as it relates to GSE on the tarmac and as we were entering that business, we
found out that it had a high growth potential. Of course, this is aside from
9/11 because I think that's a temporary setback. There was a lot more growth
on that side of our industry, which we only operated on the periphery of. So,
we made a conscious decision to focus on the GSE business and grow in that direction.
Our strategy had to have these acquisitions happen in a certain sequence — not just to go out and buy some companies and throw them into a pool and say, "what's next?" We actually sat down and created a written strategic plan — what we were going to do, how we were going to do it, and in what sequence, which is what we felt was the most important.
Why is the sequence the most important?
About two years ago, we did our first joint venture with a company in the Midwest that provided tow tractors to give us further entry into the GSE market — A&G Mercury, which has the Mercury-Pettibone line. They're doing the manufacturing we're doing the sales, service, and distribution.
We went through that process and understood how valuable it is to have a service and parts operation in place to service the customer immediately. So, we lined up those acquisitions, or types of acquisitions that we wanted to go after, and put a servicing company first — parts distribution and an in-place, eloquent system of people who knew how to take care of the GSE market. We had a number of candidates and we ended up acquiring Metro Crown International, which was about a $10 million company based in Kansas City, MO — right next to the airport. This gave us a central location, and offered the capacity to double its size, which we've done in about six months. And, they had people in place. The acquisition strategy was to keep 100 percent of the people, which we've been successful in doing. Even the selling principal stayed on as a consultant to help us over the next three years to learn much more about the business and make sure we keep that customer focus.
Can you run down the order of your strategic buys?
was the A&G Mercury, which represented manufacturing, then, service and
support. What this provided was not only did it service the products we had,
but serviced those items almost across the board of anything that runs on the
tarmac that is ground support equipment-related. Metro Crown had a significant
infrastructure and material databases, but also had inventories as well as very
knowledgeable people who knew the products and could help mechanics and service
people solve problems. It's parts and parts support and intellectual support
— we don't physically do the work, we
support the mechanics that are working for the airlines.
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