Equipment Maker Acquired

Farmer Iron

Woods Equipment is merging with Blount International chainsaw, and farm implement makers. (Updated)

Published on: August 17, 2011

A popular Illinois brand is being merged into Blount International. Woods Equipment Company, a manufacturer and marketer of farm equipment and replacement parts based in Oregon, Ill., will become part of Portland, Ore., based Blount. According to the press release, Blount will get a range of benefits including the following:

* Increased distribution for Blount's farm, ranch and agriculture end-market business - especially equipment dealers. Blount markets the following lines: Oregon, ICS, Carlton and Windsor - which concentrate on chainsaws and cutting tools. The firm also owns SpeeCo, a diversified farm implement maker.

* Expanded product line of tractor attachments and aftermarket replacement parts, including the well-known Woods and TISCO brands.

* Leverage of Blount's manufacturing and product development expertise and global distribution and supply chain network.

* Enhanced North American manufacturing and distribution footprint through the addition of three manufacturing and five distribution facilities.

Here's a quote from the press release:

"The acquisition of Woods significantly increases the scale of our farm, ranch, and agriculture business," said Josh Collins, Blount's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Woods' excellent brands, strong market position, and experienced management team coupled with our global distribution and supply chain network will provide many sales and efficiency opportunities within our combined businesses. There is a long list of value creation opportunities in this acquisition."

Following the consummation of the transaction, Jerry Johnson, President of Woods' Attachment business unit; Bill Stuckert, President of Woods' Aftermarket Parts business unit; and Mark Miller, Chief Financial Officer of Woods, will report to Paul Valas, President of Blount's Farm, Ranch, and Agriculture division. Commenting on the acquisition, Mr. Valas stated, "Woods is an excellent strategic fit for our business, and the combination greatly expands our product offering and distribution network."

Jerry Johnson stated, "We are excited to have Woods become part of Blount, a company that shares our belief that high quality products, innovation, and excellent customer service drive the growth of our business." Bill Stuckert added, "Blount's product offering and farm and ranch retail distribution is a natural fit with our TISCO aftermarket replacement parts and dealer network. Blount's global supply chain infrastructure will bring resources that will greatly enhance our growth opportunities."

Woods offers its products under the brand names Woods®, Alitec®, Central Fabricators®, Gannon®, Wain-Roy®, WoodsCare™, and TISCO® through a vast distribution network, including over 11,000 dealers nationwide, original equipment manufacturers, nationwide farm stores, an e-commerce portal, and tractor repair shops.

How this merger will shake out for the individual employees remains to be seen. More manufacturing is a good thing, but so is the opportunity to consolidate. Looks like Blount likes what Woods has to offer, so for farmers the products will still keep pouring into dealerships.

I talked with Jerry Johnson, president of Woods, who said the move is great news for the company. Since 1993, Woods has been owend by a series of equity firms. This is the first time in nearly 20 years that the company will be part of another manufacturing business. "I think this will bring stability," he notes. "Our customers will have broader access to products going forward both developed internally and through acquisition."

SpeeCo, which Blount acquired in 2010, is the first big foray into the ag business. Adding Woods will beef up that presence, and the two company's dealer organizations have very little overlap. "SpeeCo's sweet spot is the farm and ranch stores," Johnson notes. "We market through ag dealers."

As for my consolidation comment above? Johnson says that in the past few years Woods has consolidated eight manufacturing sites into the three that there are now. "There's little need to consolidate further and the processes Blount uses - the forging for example - is a lot different than the fabrication and welding we do in our plants," he explains.

Johnson adds that Woods dealer council is "excited" by the news. Official notice goes to all dealers later today.

And on a ridiculous side note - notice that Blount is in Portland, Oregon and Woods is in Oregon, Illinois. Blount has the Oregon brand name. Just wanted to note that's a lot of "Oregon's" in one transaction.