Private-Equity Firm Gets Back into Supplies Business with Online Tech

Blackford Capital, a national private equity firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, announced its investment in Reno, Nevada-based Online Tech Stores (or “OTS”), a wholesale distributor of aftermarket imaging supplies and accessories, including laser-printer toner cartridges, ink cartridges, toner, copier toner, ribbons, thermal fax consumables, and other products and peripherals.

OTS is Blackford’s latest investment in its National Growth Practice, which invests in companies throughout the United States, and is the 12th portfolio company currently invested in by Blackford Capital. Debt financing was provided by Fifth Third Bank, with support from syndicate partners Union Bank and Zions Bank, and OFS Capital Corporation. Corporate Finance Associates represented Online Tech Stores in the transaction.

“Blackford brings a tremendous amount of industry experience to the table, in addition to their strategic, financial, and operational experience. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Blackford and their talented team as we look to continue to expand OTS,” said Bob Willmes, CEO of Online Tech Stores. “While we’ve seen significant growth in the past several years, we believe this partnership will enable OTS to add products and capabilities to continue to best meet the needs of our growing customer base.”

Founded by Bob Willmes in 2009, OTS is said to be the largest importer of toner products in the United States, offering a portfolio of over 3,000 products and providing industry-leading fulfillment times through strategically located distribution centers across the United States. OTS’s management has over 100 years of combined experience in this industry. OTS currently employs over 100 people and operates in five facilities.

“OTS has achieved remarkable growth since its founding,” said Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital. “The company is known throughout the industry for its quality products and superior customer service. We see opportunities to leverage these strengths and continue to grow the business. By partnering with CEO Bob Willmes—a seasoned, industry veteran who has made three previous successful business exits—and the experienced management team at OTS, we are confident that we can build upon OTS’s legacy as a leader in the aftermarket imaging supplies market.”

Blackford Capital has extensive experience in the imagine supplies industry, having previously invested in Quality Imaging Products, Rhinotek, and Bond Street. Additionally, Stein was named one of the five Most Influential Industry Leaders by “Recharger Magazine” in 2002 and 2003. Stein also served as treasurer of the International Imaging Technology Council from 2003 – 2006, wrote numerous articles on the industry, and served as a keynote speaker at dozens of industry trade shows.

In addition to OTS (Reno, NV), Blackford’s National Growth Practice currently includes: McClarin Plastics (Hanover, PA) and Snowhite Hospitality (Bloomingdale, Illinois), with recent exits of Staging Concepts (Minneapolis, MN), and Key Health (Westlake Village, California).

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