News story

Wolter Group expands further with Bohnert acquisition

Wednesday, 13 November 2019 ( #949 ) - Louisville, KY, United States
Jerry Weidmann
Jerry Weidmann
Wolter Group has acquired Bohnert Equipment Company, a leading materials handling dealer in the Kentucky market. "Bohnert Equipment Company's comprehensive systems offering and expertise, along with its dedicated customer base, is a natural extension to the Wolter Group family of companies," says Jerry Weidmann, president of Wolter Group LLC. "We're proud of what they've achieved over the years and look forward to providing the additional resources and support to grow the company to the next level." Bohnert carries Linde products as well as equipment from Rico and Cascade. The acquisition comes hot on the heels of Wolter's purchase of Kensar Equipment Company and is part of the group's strategy to grow as a premier provider with a complete offering of materials handling, storage and engineered solutions. In an exclusive interview with Forkliftaction News, Weidmann discussed Wolter's acquisition flurry which has seen it take over nine companies in nine years. "Acquisitions have been part of our strategic plan for the last 10 years. We seek acquisitions in our current operating footprint or contiguous to it," he says. "Acquisitions are part of sustaining our growth." Wolter's current geographic footprint spans northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, with recent acquisitions extending the reach through the latter three states. For now, Wolter is focused on dealers carrying its existing lines, predominantly KION. "We are seeking to grow our footprint for the brands we already represent to leverage our resources, product knowledge, processes and people." Weidmann confirms that Wolter is seeking further acquisitions to expand its expertise in allied materials handling product lines and automation. "We are seeking businesses that are in our current footprint or contiguous to it. We are seeking businesses that are in the materials handling business consistent with our existing businesses," he says, adding that any acquisitions must be "a good cultural fit that will allow us to grow our businesses together". And how much acquisition activity can we expect? "We seek to grow at 10% per annum. We use acquisitions to supplement our organic growth. We will continue to seek acquisition opportunities in our footprint over the coming years," he notes. "The actual acquisitions we will undertake will depend on the opportunities we discover." Wolter's acquisition model, according to Weidmann, is to retain all of the employees of the acquired businesses and hire additional support staff. "We seek to have the existing ownership stay with the business to lead the transition and ultimately to train their successors." He notes, however, that in a number of acquisitions, the dealer principals are seeking to retire shortly after the acquisition, "in which case we bring in management or promote management internally to allow them to retire". Weidmann sees the key to success in empowering the individual business units to manage their business locally. "Our corporate staff provides resources, processes and support to each of the business units, including our acquired businesses, to enable their success," he explains. "Our corporate staff provides access to product lines, training, information technology, human resources, inventory management and control, rental support, etc - all resources that allow our local facilities and staff to take care of their customers."
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