Tru-Flex, previously private equity owned, was seeking a long-term partner that would propel the company to its next phase of growth. HBM’s investment approach, specifically its focus on talent management, capital and long-term focus, set the firm apart from the beginning.
COMPANY BACKGROUND AND CULTURE
Founded in 1962, Tru-Flex began in the garage of its founder, manufacturing small diameter metal hose for gasoline cans. Over the next forty years, Tru-Flex experienced strong growth driven by demand for metal hoses in a variety of industrial and transportation applications. This demand growth led to expansion of capacity and product offerings, leading to the development of hydro-formed metal bellows for use in diesel exhaust systems in 2002. As stricter emissions regulations were implemented for diesel engines, a leak-free flexible tubing exhaust solution was needed, and Tru-Flex hydro-formed bellows became the industry standard for reliable performance.
Today, Tru-Flex is the world leader in high-performance flexible metal hoses across a variety of applications. Tru-Flex prides itself on delivering high-quality exhaust solutions and responsive engineering support to its growing global customer base.
When TGP Investments determined it was time to sell its stake in the company, Tru-Flex became actively involved in identifying the right partner for their next phase of growth. Tru-Flex had big aspirations and realized they needed a long-term partner who understood their vision.
HBM was the favored firm from the beginning of the process due to their patient capital investment approach and their enterprise-wide resources such as talent management and strategic planning. Tru-Flex identified three main factors that kept HBM at the top of the list:
1. Tru-Flex had a vision of becoming a global manufacturer, starting with the European market. This would not only take financial capital but the willingness to take a long-term perspective on relative payback and trust of vision. HBM’s patient capital investment focus, with an emphasis on developing and implementing the right strategies for long-term gain, fit perfectly into Tru-Flex’s desire for a partner. Both partners were willing to take large bets once they both aligned on strategy and the right vision for the company.
2. At the time, Tru-Flex saw enormous potential in making smart acquisitions to expand into adjacent markets. Sacoma International was a perfect fit. Tru-Flex liked Sacoma’s products, their culture, location and customer portfolio and saw synergies on how the acquisition could benefit them long-term. Again, HBM’s alignment on vision and financial banking would enable them to make this acquisition a successful one.3. Tru-Flex also saw enormous opportunities in entering tangential markets. Tru-Flex knew that a partner would see the benefits of making such a risky move and provide the capital support to enter the automotive aftermarket and invest in doing it correctly. HBM’s patient capital approach and enterprise-wide resources truly set them apart in this regard.
INTEGRATION AND STRATEGIC PLANNING
Since the acquisition, HBM has challenged Tru-Flex to think aggressively about growing the business. HBM has provided resources to lead and support a strategic planning process, which identified key growth opportunities. Those initiatives all required leadership, and HBM focused attention on the recruitment of management talent.
HBM provided capital to develop new facilities to support growth and brought in external advisors who proved essential in the structuring of those initiatives. Most importantly, HBM provided the long-term strategic outlook that made it possible to think about developing the business for the next twenty years, not just the next five.
With guidance and capital from HBM, Tru-Flex progressed from one business unit to five, each with their own general manager. Three of the five business units were new business segments for Tru-Flex, and four out of the five general managers were hired under HBM’s ownership. In Europe, Tru-Flex developed a greenfield plant, which was operational 18 months after HBM acquired Tru-Flex. HBM was able to facilitate growth while allowing the Tru-Flex team to focus on developing best-in-class products and maintaining exceptional customer service.
“When we decided to sell the company, we wanted a partner that would allow us to focus on building the business for the long-term, and HBM fit the bill perfectly. We now develop not only annual budgets but also five-year strategic plans. The focus of these plans is not only on profits but also on growth-oriented capital investments and developing new customers.”
Gregg Notestine, President
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