Trivest Partners, which was founded in 1981 in Chicago and moved to Miami in 1985, is the oldest private equity firm in the Southeast.
At the end of September, it closed on its fifth private equity fund, totaling $415 million — far surpassing its initial target of $325 million. The fund’s investors include a mix of university endowments, corporate and public pensions, insurance companies, wealthy families and individuals, including Trivest’s partners.
“Our money is right alongside our investors’, said Trivest Managing Partner Troy Templeton.
Trivest focuses solely on healthy businesses owned by founders and families in the United States and Canada.
“What we’re trying to do is accelerate the growth of a company, we’re not trying to turn it around,” Templeton said.
About half of the companies it invests in are based in the Southeast, with about half of those in Florida. Most of the businesses have $20 million to $200 million in revenue, “and have hit a ceiling and need a partner to get to the next level,” Templeton said.
Typically, Trivest takes a controlling stake, with the founder retaining a minority interest, averaging 10 percent to 20 percent, said Trivest Partner Jamie Elias. Trivest usually holds a company for about five years, then sells it.
Focusing on business services, consumer products, manufacturing and distribution companies, Trivest has made 185 deals over the years, including add-on acquisitions, with a total value of more than $4.5 billion.
The firm, which currently owns 11 companies, helps the businesses with strategies for the Internet and e-commerce, and product development and expansion, as well as making acquisitions, Templeton said.
Besides historical success, the firm looks for companies that have the ability to be a top performer in their industry, with good growth potential and a good management team.
“They may be obscure, but what they do is important,” Templeton said.
Among the companies in which Trivest has invested is Banana Boat, the maker of sun protection and after-sun products, which it took from No. 6 in market share to No. 2, tripling its revenues in three years to $60 million, before selling it to Playtex in 1992. Among others, are AeroBed, Polk Audio, ATX Networks and Twin-Star International.
Mark Asofsky founded Twin-Star International 16½ years ago and sold a majority stake in the Delray Beach company to Trivest in 2007. Since then, revenues for the designer and manufacturer of home furnishing products, including electric fireplaces, have jumped from about $80 million to a projected $235 million this year.
“We didn’t have as much structure in place as we needed, and Trivest did a great job of balancing our entrepreneurial spirit by putting in some structure and controls that allowed us to manage the business better, especially as we grew,” said Asofsky, 46, who is now co-chairman. Trivest brought in a new chief executive three months ago to lead the company. Asofsky said he is taking more time to focus on his family and foundation.
Trivest, which considers itself a “kinder, gentler” private equity firm, gets most of its referrals through a network of 10,000 business brokers in the United States and Canada, Elias said.