Michigan company buys Swing-N-Slide

November 14, 2013

A Michigan-based manufacturer of ready-to-assemble wood storage sheds, play sets and recreational building kits has made its own backyard a little larger with the purchase of Swing-N-Slide, a Janesville-based competitor.

Backyard Products of Monroe, Mich., said Wednesday it bought Swing-N-Slide–a leading consumer playground equipment company–as part of its goal to become the nation’s top provider of residential wood play sets and accessories.

The company’s products are marketed under the Heartland, Handy Home Products, Yardline and Kids Creations brand names and are sold through big-box retailers and a variety of smaller retailers and dealers nationwide.

Backyard Products has a 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Monroe, Mich.

Swing-N-Slide in Janesville will be the company’s second manufacturing facility. It employs between 50 and 80 people, depending on the season.

Brennan Deitsch, a spokesman for Backyard Products, said “everything will stay the same” with the Janesville plant.

“It’s just a merging of our talents,” he said. “They do things very well.”

Thomas van der Meulen, the company’s chief executive officer, said many competitors have moved manufacturing to China, but Backyard continues to manufacture high-quality, residential wood play sets in the United States.

Domestic manufacturing combined with nationwide installation capabilities provides a unique platform for future growth, he said in a news release.

“We are very excited about the addition of Swing-N-Slide to the Backyard Product’s family,” van der Meulen said. “Swing-N-Slide has a long history of providing safe, innovative, high quality products, and we’re pleased to join forces with such an outstanding organization.

“The combination of these two companies is a very logical strategic fit on all fronts.”

Over the years, Swing-N-Slide has had several parents. The most recent was the Tennessee-based PlayCore Holdings, a designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of playground, park and other recreational products. PlayCore is owned by Irving Place Capital, a middle-market private equity firm that invests in buyouts, recapitalizations and growth capital opportunities.

“As a consumer-focused company, Backyard Products has a strong connection with Swing-N-Slide and already has working relationships with many of Swing-N-Slide’s accounts,” said Bob Farnsworth, PlayCore’s chief executive officer. “As a result of this transaction, PlayCore will be able to intensify its commercial market focus, allowing it to further exceed the expectations of customers and employees.

“This sale was a key step in better positioning PlayCore for its future dedicated to commercial markets.”

Swing-N-Slide has it roots in Newco Welding and Engineering, which was founded in Janesville in 1979 by Tom Baer. The metal fabrication company branched into swing set kits in 1986 and experienced tremendous growth.

The company eventually became known as Swing-N-Slide.


By Jim Leute, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

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