Lyman Lumber Co., the 114-year-old building supplies company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August after struggling during the housing bust, has found a buyer for most of its businesses.
BlackEagle Partners, a private equity firm based in New York and Bloomfield Hills, Mich., acquired the Midwest operations of Excelsior-based Lyman Lumber for $22.5 million in cash, according to bankruptcy filings.
BlackEagle specializes in investing in underperforming or distressed industries and companies in out-of-favor markets. Lyman's operations will become part of US LBM Holdings, a building supplies unit owned by BlackEagle.
"BlackEagle knows and understands our industry and will provide financial security through the current housing downturn," said Dale Carlson, Lyman's vice president of operations, in a statement Monday.
Carlson will remain with the business and assume the role of president. Lyman will continue to operate under the same trade names, with its same workforce and base of locations, BlackEagle said.
At its peak in 2005, Lyman Lumber had more than $420 million in annual sales and more than 1,800 employees serving professional builders and contractors. But the housing bust, which began in 2007, was especially tough on new construction projects -- long one of Lyman's target markets.
Today, Lyman employs more than 500 people with annual sales of about $100 million. When it filed for Chapter 11, Lyman Lumber Co. reported assets of $15.5 million and liabilities of $100.3 million.
The cash deal includes Lyman's Chanhassen location; Automated Building Components of Excelsior; Carpentry Contractors Corp. of Montrose, Minn.; the Keystone Report based in Excelsior, and Lyman Lumber of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.
BlackEagle's US LBM Holdings include a collection of eight building products distributors serving the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. After the Lyman acquisition, US LBM will have 40 locations, 1,500 employees and more than $450 million in annual revenue, the company said.
"Lyman has established a terrific reputation," said L.T. Gibson, CEO of US LBM. "All of our business units will benefit through this acquisition."
Said Carlson: "We found a partner that respects the integral relationships that our customers, vendors, and employees play in this industry. The housing market will recover -- it's only a matter of time."
Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926