Category: Company Updates

Twist & Seal Featured in the Wall Street Journal

How I Thought of It: An Entrepreneur Wanted to Keep Holiday Lights From Going Out

Water kept ruining outdoor decorations, so he invented a gadget to keep them dry

By Barbara Haislip Nov. 29, 2019 9:57 am ET

For years, Bryan Nooner and his wife, Mari-Beth, struggled with the same problem around the holidays: keeping the outdoor decorative lights on.

It seemed every time it rained or the snow melted, water would seep in between the light-cord connections and trip the circuit, shutting off the power to most of the outdoor lights.

“We used electrical tape, duct tape, waterproof tape, plastic bags and plastic bottles,” says Mr. Nooner. But nothing worked.

On a rainy day in December 2010, the Nooners were getting ready to entertain a large family gathering at their home in Mokena, Ill. But as they were getting close to start time, the outside lights went out again.

“We grabbed an umbrella, a towel and some tape and proceeded to unwrap, dry off and retape what seemed to be an unending number of holiday-light electrical connections,” Mr. Nooner says.

So, Mr. Nooner spent most of that evening locked in his office, drawing designs of what would eventually become Twist and Seal—a shell that covers and protects cord connections.

He says that his background—he studied biology and previously worked as a high-school teacher—helped him understand how to test various designs in controlled experiments. Meanwhile, the slowdown in the economy had brought Mr. Nooner’s home-building business to a standstill—which gave him the time he needed for those tests.

“Thousands of man-hours were spent in 2011 drawing, carving, designing, modeling and testing various sizes, shapes and materials,” he says.

A prototype of the first Twist and Seal product was completed in the fall of 2011. By February 2012, Mr. Nooner had a fully tested production piece in hand and a patent filed. He took a friend’s advice to set up a booth at the National Hardware Show that May. “I packed up the Suburban and was off to a glorified science fair,” says Mr. Nooner.

Then came a big break: Twist and Seal won the prize for Most Innovative Product of the Year, according to Mr. Nooner. (The National Hardware Show says it doesn’t have records on winners that far back.) The victory was such a surprise, Mr. Nooner says, he didn’t go to the awards ceremony because the team was busy with customers. Someone had to find him to present the award.

The product took off from there. It landed on the shelves of Home Depot, among other retailers, and sold about 30,000 units in 2012. Since 2013, the company has sold more than six million units in the product line—with prices ranging from $4.99 to $29.95—and it can be found in more than 20,000 retail locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

“The Twist and Seal story is an American story,” says Mr. Nooner. “How awesome is it that you can be free to innovate and develop your ideas and have the freedom to turn your dreams into reality?”

Ms. Haislip is a writer in Chatham, N.J. Email reports@wsj.com.


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Rhino Cart Wins 2019 Most Innovative Product

The Rhino Cart all-terrain moving cart was created from the frustrations faced when using a traditional moving dolly. Door thresholds, small stones, cracks in the sidewalk, and uneven surfaces all stop a traditional dolly in its tracks. When you’re moving an awkward and heavy item, abrupt stops can be dangerous. We set out to simplify the effort needed to move large and heavy items at home, in the shop, and on the job.  

The Rhino Cart is specifically designed to conquer uneven and rough surfaces such as uneven hard pack dirt & gravel while carrying up to 1,000 lbs. With 8 heavy-duty urethane wheels, the Rhino Cart can roll up and over cracks, thresholds, ramps, transitions, stones, cords, and even 2×4’s. Moving just got easier. 

Rhino Cart is a division of Midwest Innovative Products. MIP has a long and successful history of manufacturing and sales in the tool and hardware industry. Rhino Cart and all MIP products are proudly made in the USA. 

After over a year of product development and research, Rhino Cart was officially unveiled at the National Hardware Show in May of 2019. Rhino Cart was an immediate hit at the show and won two prestigious awards: Most Innovative New Product and Retailers Choice Award. 

ABOUT

Rhino Cart is an all-terrain moving cart specifically designed to conquer thresholds, uneven surfaces, and even hard pack dirt & gravel. Rhino Cart is a division of Midwest Innovative Products. Visit: midwestinnovativeproducts.com


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What is Twist and Seal Anyway?

Over the last two years, I have been doing my best to explain the Twist and Seal products and now I have a great Twist and Seal video to do that for me.

Based in the Chicago suburb of Frankfort, Twist and Seal designs and manufactures patented devices that protect electrical cords from water damage. The device snaps over where two cords plug together or where cords plug into a multi-plug power strip to keep snow, rain, and ice from affecting the connection. Twist and Seal serves a wide range of customers, including homeowners hanging holiday lights, zoos, industrial operations, entertainment venues, construction sites, and municipalities.

Each Twist and Seal product has gone through rigorous lab testing, has been certified to industry standards and is manufactured in the U.S. Twist and Seal is a three-time recipient of the Most Innovative Product of the Year award at the National Hardware Show. Twist and Seal products can be found at most hardware stores, including Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart and online at Amazon or twistandseal.com.

Twist and Seal Mini

Twist and Seal products are specifically designed to protect your outdoor extension cord connections. Perfect for holiday lights, outdoor lighting, and the job site.

  • APPLICATIONS – Perfect for keeping water, mud and melting snow away from extension cord connections. No more tripped outlets or lights going off when it rains or snows.
  • EASY TO USE – Unique and patented design will keep typical extension cord connections dry all season long. Simply place your connections inside and clamp latches down!
  • SAFETY – Helps prevents tripped outlets and reduce the risk of electrical shock. Independently lab tested to meet and exceed NEMA standards for protection against rain, sleet and ice.
  • HEAVY DUTY – Proudly made in USA! Constructed from commercial grade plastic that has UV protection.

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Colfax Creek and Rock River’s Fluence Automation Acquires POST-IS

CHICAGO, IL / BIRMINGHAM, MI – Colfax Creek Capital and Rock River Capital Partners formed Fluence Automation to acquire the mail and parcel sorting business unit of Bell and Howell on July 31, 2017.    Fluence Automation is the leading manufacturer of mail and parcel sorting equipment, software, and services.  Fluence Automation has acquired POST Integrated Solutions (POST-IS), a parcel processing and material handling technology company serving the eCommerce, postal and parcel automation markets.

Strategically, the move further enhances Fluence Automation’s technology offerings and adds a dedicated team of professionals in the growing parcel delivery and eCommerce fulfillment automation markets, while the company continues to serve customers in traditional mail and postal sorting.

POST-IS and Fluence Automation have already worked closely together to serve customers. The combined entity has a comprehensive automation platform to provide high-speed parcel induction, encoding and data-automation solutions including scanning, dimensioning, weighing, address reading, variable-length, dynamic labeling and sorting technology.

“The addition of POST-IS complements our efforts in the surging eCommerce automation space and will help our customers reduce costs and delivery timeframes by increasing production speed in their eCommerce, mail and parcel processing, distribution and shipping operations,” says Mike Swift, president and CEO of Fluence Automation.

Jason Duzan of Colfax Creek added, “that Post-IS will provide new capabilities to accelerate Fluence Automation’s eCommerce and parcel automation growth”.

Rob Stone, founder and president of POST-IS, will join Fluence Automation and lead the Fluence business unit focused on eCommerce automation.

“We are excited to build on the success we’ve had at POST-IS over the past several years, now as part of Fluence,” says Stone. “The company has a strong, growing business with an outstanding suite of products, software, and technical support. I look forward to tapping the collective resources of the organization to provide expanded solutions for customers.”

About Colfax Creek Capital

Based in Birmingham, Michigan, Colfax Creek is a private investment firm that invests in “smaller” middle market companies. The firm focuses on consumer product, service, and industrial companies in the Great Lake states. Colfax Creek brings its investment expertise and collaboration with operating executives and entrepreneurs to build long-term businesses.  We develop relationships with business owners and management and focus our capital and resources with a shared purpose of creating lasting value. For more information, visit www.colfaxcreek.com.

About Rock River Capital

Rock River Capital is a Chicago-based private investment firm focused on investing in growing industrial and services businesses as well as other growth-oriented opportunities.  We generally prefer to partner with existing management in ownership transition situations and take a long-term, patient approach.  For more information visit: www.rockrivercp.com.

About Fluence Automation

Fluence Automation is an innovative technology solutions company that builds and markets mail and parcel sorting systems and owns a portfolio of mail and parcel labeling technologies that increasingly is being adapted for the e-Commerce fulfillment market. Fluence provides long-term support and customer care through its robust suite of software focused on vision/recognition and sorting applications, and a service support network that is based primarily in the U.S., with operating subsidiaries in the UK and Germany. For more information visit: www.fluenceautomation.com.

 


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Shaffer Joins GLE Precision as Board Advisor

GLE Precision, headquartered in Bridgeport, Mich., has recruited a proven industrial executive to advise and guide the company through its next growth phase. Alan Shaffer will serve as an advisor to the board of directors. He brings 30 years of operating experience in 13 domestic and international industrial markets while at four publicly traded companies and two private equity portfolio companies.

“Alan is a terrific find for GLE Precision,” Jason Duzan, chairman of GLE, said. “He has decades of experience in leading businesses similar to GLE Precision, including precision manufacturing. He has terrific chemistry with management; his guidance and experience will be invaluable during the upcoming growth expansion that GLE Precision is driving toward.”

Looking for the Right Advisor

GLE Precision has exceeded its growth objective since Colfax Creek acquired the company in 2015 and has developed new precision manufacturing capabilities to become a leader in the medical device, fiber optic, and computer chip markets. With more growth on the horizon, GLE Precision’s leadership decided to add a new board advisor who will counsel us on our sales and marketing initiatives.

“The GLE leadership team was looking for an individual who has a deep and broad exposure to business, one who truly enjoys the challenges of business today, including technical sales and manufacturing,” said Clint Bucholz, president of GLE Precision. “A person that is an individual that has a ‘been there and done that’ portfolio of work experiences. Alan is that guy. It should be a fun journey together.”

An Engineer & a Proven Executive

An engineer by training, Shaffer has used his technical expertise and leadership experience in a variety of domestic and international industrial markets.  These markets included cutting tools, metalworking chemicals, bonded abrasives, carbide wear parts/powered metals, mining and road construction tools, industrial magnets, printed circuit board laminates, metrology and industrial lasers, coordinate measuring machines, machine tools and flexible manufacturing systems, precision press die tooling and plastic mold tooling.

In addition to 30 years of P&L experience, Shaffer has also led the acquisition, restructuring, integration, and operation of 15 companies and the divestiture of seven businesses in North America, Europe, Japan and Asia that totaled $1 billion in revenue. Most of the acquired companies were losing money. Shaffer led the work to turn these companies into profitable businesses.

Shaffer also has experience in private equity, serving on a board of directors and as a business owner. For seven years, he was one of five owners of Starchem Inc., a developer and manufacturer of metalworking chemicals with sales in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, and India.

Shaffer held several executive level positions with different companies, including Federal Signal Corporation [NYSE: FSS], American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. [NYSE: AXL] (Blackstone Group portfolio company), and Cincinnati Milacron Inc. [NYSE: MZ], before retiring in early 2015 as president of Dayton Lamina Corporation, a $220 million subsidiary of Misumi Group Inc. of Japan with 14 plants and 1,500 employees.

Guiding GLE Precision

GLE Precision has been going through a rapid period of growth. This has led to many positive changes but highlighted our need for improvement, which has encouraged us to look for another key member of the team. As an advisor to the board of directors, Shaffer will share his considerable experience with GLE Precision’s leadership to help move the company into the next phase and expand its market reach.

“GLE Precision has a tremendous opportunity because of its unique skill set of working with extremely small parts that require a high finish,” Shaffer said. “I am excited to be a part of the growth potential of the business and leverage my experience in sales and operations with similar sized and larger industrial businesses.”

About Colfax Creek Capital

Based in Birmingham, Michigan, Colfax Creek is a private investment firm that invests in“smaller” middle market companies. The firm focuses on consumer product, service, and industrial companies with EBITDA from $2 million to $7 million in the Great Lake states. Colfax Creek brings its investment expertise and collaboration with operating executives and entrepreneurs to build long-term businesses. Jason Duzan, the principal of Colfax Creek, has invested in middle market companies for more than 20 years — leading or co-leading nearly $2 billion in private investment transactions in consumer, service and industrial companies. We develop relationships with business owners and management and focus our capital and resources with a shared purpose of creating lasting value. For more information, visit www.colfaxcreek.com.

About GLE Precision

Founded in 1961 and headquartered in Bridgeport, Michigan, GLE Precision is a manufacturer of extremely high precision products, when gage tolerances, wear properties, and high finishes are critical. GLE Precision is a global leader in tungsten carbide machining, ceramic machining and other hard exotic materials machined to customer specifications. Its products serve the waterjet, medical device, chip/tech, aerospace, fiber optic markets and a broad range of other applications for some of the most recognizable companies in the world such as Johnson & Johnson, Emerson, IBM, and Bosch. For more information, visit www.gle-precision.com.


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GLE Precision to Expand its Board of Directors

Colfax Creek acquired GLE Precision in 2015. Over the last two and half years, GLE has exceeded its growth objectives.  In addition, the Company has developed new precision manufacturing capabilities to serve cutting-edge customers and industries, particularly in the medical device, fiber optic, and aerospace markets. As a result, GLE is seeking to add one new member to its Board of Directors to assist and guide the company in its sales and marketing initiatives.

New Board of Directors Candidate Guidelines (not rules):
Experience:
      1. Current or Retired CEO, COO, or VP-Sales & Marketing
      2. Technical sales and marketing skill set and experience
      3. Manufacturing and/or industrial service experience
      4. Relationships in any of the following market segments:
        • Medical Devices
        • Fiber Optic
        • Aerospace
        • Computer Chip
Intangibles:
      1. No Jerk Rule – chemistry with management and fellow board members is critical
      2. Time to Commit – typically monthly calls and quarterly in-person board meetings
      3. Greater Michigan location – accessible to Bridgeport, Michigan
      4. Relationship focused – preference for referred candidates
Please contact Colfax Creek at jason@colfaxcreek.com to refer a Board of Directors candidate.

About Colfax Creek Capital

Based in Birmingham, Michigan, Colfax Creek is a private investment firm that invests in “smaller” middle market companies.  The firm focuses on consumer product, service, and industrial companies with EBITDA from $2 million to $7 million in the Great Lake States. Colfax Creek brings its investment expertise and collaboration with operating executives and entrepreneurs to build long-term businesses.  Jason Duzan, the principal of Colfax Creek, has invested in middle market companies for twenty years — leading or co-leading nearly two billion in private investment transactions in consumer, service, and industrial companies. We develop relationships with business owners and management and focus our capital and resources with a shared purpose of creating lasting value. For more information visit: www.colfaxcreek.com.

About GLE Precision

Founded in 1961 and headquartered in Bridgeport, Michigan, GLE Precision is a manufacturer of extremely high precision products, when gage tolerances, wear properties, and high finishes are critical. GLE Precision is a global leader in tungsten carbide machining, ceramic machining, and other hard exotic materials machined to customer specifications. Its products serve the waterjet, medical device, chip/tech, aerospace,  fiber optic markets and a broad range of other applications for some of the most recognizable companies in the world such as Johnson & Johnson, Emerson, IBM, and Bosch. For more information visit: www.gle-precision.com.


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GLE Precision Puts a Face on Middle-Market Business

The Michigan Manufacturer Makes Products That Fit in Your Palm, but Its Reach Goes Much Further

CHAUNIE BRUSIE | AUGUST 10, 2017 | http://middlemarketgrowth.org

Tucked behind the main street of Frankenmuth, Michigan, where Bavarian architecture, world-famous chicken dinners and horse-drawn carriages are town trademarks, stands the grinding facility of GLE Precision.

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Middle Market Growth: The Strength of Small

The Strength of Small: GLE Precision Helps Manufacturers Meet Stringent Quality Requirements

S.A. SWANSON | MAY 17, 2017 | middlemarketgrowth.org

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