Friend Skoler Announces Acquisition of Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation

 

SADDLE BROOK, NJ, July 27, 2004 - Friend Skoler & Co., L.L.C., a private equity firm that invests in leading companies in the smaller end of the middle market, announced today that it has acquired Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation in partnership with management.  Hopkins, headquartered in Emporia, Kansas, is a leading manufacturer and marketer of specialized towing products and functional accessories for the automotive and recreational vehicle aftermarkets.

 

Founded in 1953, Hopkins markets its products under a number of well-recognized brand names, including Hoppy®, TAPTM, LiteMate®, BrakeBuddy®, Spillmaster® and FloToolTM.  Hopkins' products, which include vehicle-to-trailer wiring and control accessories, RV supplemental tow brakes, and a variety of automotive winter care, fluid handling, storage & organization and auto cleaning accessories, have leading market shares within their respective segments.

 

"Hopkins fits extremely well with our investment criteria," said Alexander Friend, Managing Partner of Friend Skoler & Co.  "The company has leading market positions in its core product categories, a diversified customer base and broad product offering, long standing customer relationships, and an outstanding management team.  In addition, the company is well positioned to benefit from favorable trends in the towing accessories segment that should drive organic growth in the future."

 

"We look forward to partnering with Hopkins' exceptional management team to build upon the company's impressive record of success," said Steven F. Skoler, Managing Partner of Friend Skoler & Co.  "Hopkins has a history of new product innovation, high customer service levels and successful integration of complementary acquisitions, which we are confident will continue under the outstanding leadership of Brad Kraft and his senior management team."

 

Bradley Kraft, President of Hopkins, stated: "We are excited to work with Friend Skoler & Co.  Their track record of success investing in consumer oriented middle market companies and working with management to complete add-on acquisitions will be helpful to Hopkins."

 

Antares Capital underwrote the senior debt financing for the transaction and other senior lenders to the transaction include GE Capital and CIT.  American Capital Strategies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ACAS) provided the subordinated debt and preferred stock.  The Hopkins acquisition marks the first transaction by Friend Skoler Equity Investors, L.P., which closed in April 2004 with $231 million of capital commitments.

 

About Friend Skoler & Co., L.L.C.

 

Founded in 1998, Friend Skoler & Co., L.L.C. is a private equity firm that invests in leading companies in the smaller end of the middle market in partnership with management.  FSC typically invests between $10 million and $40 million of equity per transaction and manages Friend Skoler Equity Investors, L.P., a private equity fund with $231 million of capital commitments.  A key element of the fund's strategy is to leverage the firm's extensive experience as investors in and operators of middle market companies.  Friend Skoler is headquartered in Saddle Brook, NJ.  For additional information, please visit www.friendskoler.com.

 

About Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation

 

Headquartered in Emporia, Kansas, Hopkins is a leading manufacturer and marketer of specialized towing products and functional accessories for the automotive and recreational vehicle aftermarkets.  Hopkins markets its products under a number of well-recognized brand names, including Hoppy®, TAPTM, LiteMate®, BrakeBuddy®, Spillmaster® and FloToolTM.  Hopkins' products include vehicle-to-trailer wiring and control accessories, RV supplemental tow brakes, and a variety of automotive winter care, fluid handling, storage & organization and auto cleaning accessories.  For more information about Hopkins, please visit www.hopkinsmfg.com,www.brakebuddy.com, orwww.trailerwiring.com.

 

For additional information, contact:                 

 

Dean Bosacki

Friend Skoler & Co., Inc.   

201.712.0075