Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Michigan-based crash-test dummy maker gets new owner

The world of crash-test dummies is changing. While most of the dummies in use today were built in the 1980s, the technology is changing significantly since the days of Vince and Larry, the dummies featured in ads from that decade urging motorists to "Buckle Up." As federal vehicle safety regulations become more stringent, makers of crash-test dummies need to modernize these and other safety testing tools.

Humanetics Innovative Solutions Inc., headquartered in Plymouth Township, manufactures crash-test dummies. In addition to making and calibrating the dummies, Humanetics also makes testing and sensory equipment. It has plants all over the world. Its revenue will likely be $20 million more for 2013 than it was in 2012. It has big plans for the future, including new technologies to advance automotive safety.

The company, which was started by a Chicago-based private equity firm in 2009, has been sold to another private equity group, Golden Gate Capital, based in San Francisco. Its parent company, Safety Technology Holdings Inc. and two subsidiaries were included in the sale. The chief executive officer of the parent company and Humanetics says the deal has been in the works for a while, but the current owners were looking for the best choice. He says that Golden Gate Capital is a good fit for the company because, unlike many private equity firms, it will be a "long-term stakeholder," and will be able to provide Humanetics the money it needs to purchase new equipment and continue to grow. In fact, he projects the company's profits to triple within five years.

When we hear about a sale of business, particularly in the Detroit area, it often is under unfortunate circumstances. However, this sale seems to be a positive step for the growth and success of this Michigan-based business. No doubt, all parties involved have strong legal teams that will ease the way through any legal, financial and regulatory hurdles to make the sale go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Source: Crain's Detroit Business, "Crash-test dummy maker sees sale as smart move for growth" Dustin Walsh, Dec. 10, 2013

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