Founded in 1886 to mine Appalachian coal, Berwind began leasing its mining operations in 1962 to fund investments in new ventures. Berwind Corporation is now a full-fledged investment firm focused on manufacturing and service companies. As a long-term investment company, it prefers a buy-and-hold strategy over quick turnarounds for rapid returns. The firm gives autonomy to its portfolio companies' management teams, while adding investment fuel to their financial fires. Its diverse portfolio includes Elmer's Products, maker of Elmer's Glue, Krazy Glue, and other products; specialty chemicals companies CRC and Colorcon; and animal health firm Wellpet. The Berwind family has owned Berwind Corporation for five generations.
While it allows for considerable operating autonomy, Berwind provides business, financial, and operational advisory services and assistance to its portfolio companies. Its operations cover automotive, commercial vehicle, office and craft supply, specialty chemical, pharmaceutical, energy, and animal health ventures.
Berwind's venture capital arm, Inflection Point Ventures (IPV), funds early-stage telecommunications and information technology concerns. Its investments range from $500,000 to $2 million. However, the venture capital firm is managing its existing portfolio and not making new investments.
Berwind Property Group (or BPG Properties) owns more than 25 million sq. ft. of commercial, multifamily, retail, and industrial properties. Another unit, Berwind Natural Resources, still holds coal, natural gas, and timber rights in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Berwind takes full ownership of its investment companies and buys with cash. It targets companies that show steady growth, international operations, and companies with high growth margins. Berwind plans to invest another $1 billion by 2014.
The company also divests companies as it varies the makeup of its portfolio. In 2012 it sold National Pen, a collectables manufacturer, to Lincolnshire Management.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Berwind added a new portfolio company when it purchased Oliver Products from private equity firm Mason Wells in 2012. The purchase added the operations of the Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging and the Oliver Packaging and Equipment divisions.