National Pen Acquired By Investment Firm

San Diego, California-based distributor National Pen Company LLC (UPIC: NATI0006) has been acquired by Lincolnshire Management. National Pen previously was a portfolio company of private equity firm Berwind Corporation. The transaction closed on November 20.

National Pen CEO Dave Thompson spoke with PPB Newslink about the transaction, saying, “This is a natural next step for us as a company, and we’re excited about it. Lincolnshire has been consistently ranked by Fortune magazine as a top private equity firm.”

Discussions began about a year ago, when Berwind made the decision to sell National Pen. “It’s fairly common for a private equity firm to do this,” Thompson says, explaining that Berwind engaged an investment banking firm to work with National Pen throughout the process. “We did a lot of prep work in the fourth quarter of last year. The entire process took about nine months.”

Thompson is pleased with Lincolnshire’s reputation with its former holdings; he interviewed half a dozen CEOs of companies once owned by the firm. “I asked what it was like to be part of Lincolnshire, and they were unanimous that Lincolnshire is a tremendous ownership.”

Thompson explained that Lincolnshire’s experience with other companies that concentrate on direct-mail operations made them a perfect partner for National Pen. “In the grand scheme of things, National Pen does direct mail, and we utilize customized promotional products, selling to small companies with 20 or fewer employees. We work through a massive amount of data and have sophisticated analytics. They [Lincolnshire] really understand the nuances of direct mail.”

Thompson adds that he believes being part of Lincolnshire’s portfolio of companies will allow National Pen to advance their analytics.

The acquisition comes on the heels of National Pen’s consistent revenue and earnings growth; Thompson says the company has seen its fourth consecutive year of increases. “We are having a fantastic year,” he says.  While under Berwind, National Pen acquired Atlas Pen & Pencil, but Thompson says his firm will focus predominantly on organic growth with Lincolnshire.

Thompson says no changes will occur in National Pen’s leadership or strategic direction. “It’s almost a non-event for our employees, because we’ve been transparent about this from the beginning.”

Founded in 1948 as Modern Mold and Tool, National Pen operates in the United States, Canada and Europe, and has three manufacturing facilities, including one in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

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