Firm buys Watchfire Signs

Firm buys Watchfire Signs

DANVILLE — A New York-based private equity firm has bought Watchfire Signs, a long-time Danville electronic sign company that has grown into a leading manufacturer of LED signs and digital billboards.

The Jordan Company is a middle-market private equity firm in New York that has a long history of buying and building companies in partnership with existing owners and management teams, Watchfire Chief Executive Officer Steve Harriott said in a Thursday news release announcing the acquisition.

Harriott and Chief Financial Officer Frank Dwyer will continue in their roles with the company, as will all other senior Watchfire executives, according to the release from the company's communications firm, Clarus Communications. Linda Muskin with Clarus said company officials were not available Thursday night for further comment.

"This is an exciting time for Watchfire," Harriott said in the release. "We are poised for strong growth in an industry that is still in its early stages. The Jordan Company understands the potential for Watchfire's continued growth and increased market share."

Watchfire's workforce has increased 257 percent in the last five years to roughly 300 employees, and the company just finished a physical expansion that added 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 17,000 square feet of office space that allowed it to consolidate its entire operation at one site at 1015 Maple St., Danville. According to Watchfire officials, the expansion and workforce growth is precipitated by increases in the company's sales of LED signs located on customers' premises and digital billboards.

According to the release, the Wood family of Danville, which led the company into its current growth phase, will continue to be shareholders. Members of the family have been shareholders in Watchfire since the Woods' acquisition of the business in 1971.

Watchfire Signs has been manufacturing outdoor electric signs since 1932 and has been manufacturing LED signs since 1996. The company has more than 45,000 outdoor LED signs and billboards in daily operation worldwide.

The Jordan Company, founded in 1982, has more than $5 billion of committed capital under management and more than 30 years of investing in and contributing to the growth of many businesses across a wide range of industries. Its managing partners have been investing together for over 20 years. Headquartered in New York, it also has offices in Chicago and Shanghai.

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EdRyan wrote on October 04, 2013 at 7:10 am

I guess we'll be soon waving those jobs goodbye as they sail of to China!