Carousel Capital announced today a highly successful exit from its investment in Express Oil Change through a sale to Thompson Street Capital Partners based in St. Louis, Missouri. This marks Carousel’s fourth successful portfolio company exit in calendar year 2010.
Express is the largest independent operator of quick lube and automotive service centers in the Southeastern United States. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Express and its franchisees operate 172 service centers in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. Founded in 1979, Express provides traditional oil change and quick lube services, as well as light automotive service and repair work in a setting that emphasizes high levels of service and convenience.
Carousel acquired a majority ownership position in the business from the owners and management of Express, Richard A. Brooks and Joe E. Watson, in 2005. Both maintained significant ownership stakes in the business throughout Carousel’s ownership. Throughout Carousel’s investment, the company achieved record earnings with growth each successive year. Growth was accomplished through organic company owned and franchised location additions, significant margin enhancement initiatives and selective acquisitions within the company owned operating footprint.
“Joe and I had known the people at Carousel Capital for several years before they acquired our business,” said Richard A. Brooks, Chairman and CEO of Express. “They were an outstanding partner and a terrific fit with the operating philosophy and core values of the entire Express system, which we and our franchisees have worked so hard to develop.” “Carousel’s financial and strategic guidance allowed us to achieve our long-term goals of rapidly growing the company while continuing to seek ways to improve the Express business model for our franchisees,” he added.
“When we acquired Express, we said Ricky Brooks and Joe Watson were the best operators in America in the segment . . . our investment results proved that to have been true,” said Jason C. Schmidly, Managing Partner of Carousel Capital. “We are very appreciative of the partnership between Carousel and the entire Express family,” he added.
John Pollock and Meg Montague, now of Fidus Partners, along with Edgeview Partners, acted as financial advisors to Express in the transaction.
Carousel Capital is a private investment firm that invests in companies located in the Southeastern United States. Carousel’s investor base includes institutional investors and an elite group of more than 100 current and former CEOs with significant operating experience. Since its inception, Carousel has invested in 28 companies primarily in three targeted growth sectors: business services; consumer products and services; and healthcare services.