There is another entrant in the market for privately owned Akron area businesses that might be for sale.
The new investment partnership includes members of the Kanfer family, known for its operations of GOJO Industries, maker of Purell brand cleaning products.
But Joe Kanfer and the other partners say they are not looking for an investment in which they would buy, then sell after a short time for a profit.
They say that KBZ Partners, formed in March, has the long term in mind.
KBZ is made up of four people — Joe Kanfer, chairman and chief executive officer of GOJO; Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, Kanfer’s eldest daughter and vice chair of GOJO; Todd Bendis, a childhood friend and school classmate of Kanfer Rolnick’s and Don Zigdon, Kanfer’s son-in-law.
KBZ says it is looking for an industrial manufacturing or service business that has revenues between $15 million and $35 million. The ideal candidate would come from a mature industry with the opportunity for growth.
The business would be run by Bendis, 41, who for several years held leadership roles at Greif, a large industrial packaging company and also worked for General Electric. Help in the new venture would come from Zigdon, 28, an operations specialist. Kanfer and Kanfer Rolnick, 41, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., will serve as advisers.
Bendis will give leadership to the organization and Zigdon will have more of a learning curve and will be used for his expertise in manufacturing and process improvement, said Kanfer. Both will be involved in day-to-day operations.
The acquisition would not necessarily have any connection to GOJO and there are no plans to integrate it into GOJO, the partners said.
The Kanfer family has a separate investment venture called Everett Partners. Joe Kanfer said that was created to focus on bringing businesses from Israel to Akron. Everett Partners invests in businesses, but is not an operator and has no connection to GOJO.
“We can be a very comforting alternative for that business owner that is preparing for probably the largest event in their professional life. Especially for that business owner that has concern about his legacy and customers and most importantly, his employees, we think we can be an attractive alternative,” said Bendis, who was a classmate with Kanfer Rolnick at Revere schools.
Tony Manna, chairman and CEO of Signet Enterprises LLC of Akron, a private equity company that buys businesses for the long term, said he believes the market for investing in businesses is much better than during the national recession, which ended in June 2009.
“It’s better now for one reason — banks are financing deals right now,” he said.
Manna said Northeast Ohio is an active market.
“There are so many people out there searching to buy businesses,” Manna said. “I get an email every other day from guys who have been retained by companies looking for acquisitions in Northeast Ohio. ... A lot of deals take place and no one even knows about it.”
Signet Enterprises, headquartered in downtown Akron, is a diverse private equity business, and includes Signet Development, which has done several deals involving the construction of health-care facilities. Signet Enterprises owns several Ohio companies, including bindery company Finish Line Binderies of Cleveland.
After earning his MBA 14 years ago and working around the country and in Europe last year, Bendis decided he wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial venture. As part of his networking, he reached out to Kanfer Rolnick.
“The next day, I got a voice mail and she had spoken with Joe and some of the things I had said had resonated with them,” Bendis said.
Kanfer said he and Zigdon, who is married to his youngest daughter, had already been looking for some opportunities, including franchising. When Kanfer Rolnick called, Kanfer said he remembered Bendis as “a really nice kid” and a “star student” but it had been 20 years. Bendis said he remembers Kanfer chaperoning a group of students selling hot dogs at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The eventual partners met for a meeting.
“It suddenly struck me that what he’s looking for and what we’re looking for was not all that different. We just had a conversation and it basically clicked on values more than anything else,” Kanfer said.
The partners said they will be flexible about operating an acquired company. “The best combination will be using some of our skills and our background together with that owner-operator as we kick off a transition period,” Bendis said.
“We’re taking the approach that we took with GOJO — invest in a business, build the people, add a little bit of innovation and build something for the future,” said Kanfer, whose late uncle and aunt Jerry and Goldie Lippman founded the local business in 1946 that has turned into an internationally known company for hand hygiene and skin care.
The KBZ partners have formed a website at www.kbzpartners.com.