UPDATED - Audax Group, an investor in lower-middle market companies, completed the acquisition of Tri-Northern Holdings Inc., d.b.a. Tri-Ed / Northern Video Distribution. Headquartered in Woodbury, N.Y., Tri-Ed / Northern Video is an independent distributor of low-voltage electronic security products including video, intrusion, access/fire, and other ancillary products. With 47 locations across the United States and Canada, Tri-Ed / Northern Video Distribution serves both commercial and residential markets through its branch and technical sales business units. With offices in Boston and New York, Audax has raised in excess of $5.0 billion of equity, mezzanine debt, and senior loan capital.
“It’s great to have a partner in Audax who has been very successful in building distribution businesses with a buy-and-build strategy, which has been the key to our growth. We’ve made three subsequent acquisitions including the merger with Northern Video,” said Pat Comunale, president and chief executive officer of Tri-Ed / Northern Video. “With Audax as a partner, there’s plenty of capital available for both greenfield acquisitions and also plenty to acquire companies.”
Geoffrey S. Rehnert, co-chief executive officer of Audax Group, said “Tri-Northern is a leading distributor of electronic security products with a best-in-class distribution model and an industry-leading management team. We look forward to working with Steve Roth, Pat Comunale and their team to build the company through add-on acquisitions, greenfield expansion, and building out the organization.”
Comunale commented on the plans for this next phase in the company’s growth. “We’ll be much more aggressive in the acquisition strategy than we have been in the past. We’re going to look to build out our footprint even faster than we have over the past four or five years. And having a partner like Audax that is very well-capitalized just dovetails right in with our existing strategy.”
On where this growth will take the company, Comunale said, “If you look at our current footprint, we have some locations in the Midwest that we’d like to fill out and even in the Southeast.”
The acquisition of Tri-Ed / Northern Video has been in the works for the past year. “Over the summer, we had two unsolicited offers for the business,” Comunale explained. “Once we received those offers we decided to go to Brazos to see what the value of the business was. And we decided to partner with Audax. Brazos had no intention of selling this business. But we had created such value between the merger of Tri-Ed and Northern Video that it just made sense.”
Comunale also noted that the Tri-Ed / Northern Video management team is staying intact and there is no change to the operation of the business as far as customers, employees or vendor partners.
“We will continue with our current strategy,” Comunale noted. “When we acquired the business from Tyco seven years ago, our goal was to become North America’s largest independent low-voltage security distributor. I think we’ve accomplished that. And I think our next goal will be to build this into the billion dollar distributor that it can be.”
Harris Williams & Co. advised Tri-Northern. Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as counsel to Audax Group. Bank of America provided senior debt financing and funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. provided junior debt financing to support the transaction.
Comunale added, “This transaction positions Tri-Ed / Northern Video to build on our past success. Audax Group’s proven track record building middle market distributors into national leaders will be a great asset as we embark on our next stage of growth within this fragmented industry.”