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Investment firm buys Lennox; workers relieved

Investment firm buys Lennox; workers relieved
Investment firm buys Lennox; workers relieved | Investment firm buys Lennox; workers relieved
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Union City’s Lennox Hearth Products plant has been sold to Comvest Investment Partners IV, a fund of private investment firm The Comvest Group of West Palm Beach, Fla.
Lennox International Inc. announced the sale of its Lennox Hearth Products business on Wednesday. The all-cash deal closed on Tuesday and terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Lennox International Inc. is a global leader in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration markets.
Workers at the local fireplace plant were informed of the sale at meetings held Wednesday.
The local plant employs between 200-250 workers and has been in operation since 1977 off Reelfoot Avenue. The plant manufactures a variety of residential fireplace units that are shipped across the United States.
The Comvest Group is a leading private investment firm focused on providing equity and debt capital to lower middle-market companies, according to the firm’s website. Since 2000, Comvest has invested more than $1.3 billion of capital in over 95 public and private companies, according to the website.
In early February, news of the local plant’s being up for sale was first made public.
Cynthia Baker, director of communications and public affairs for Lennox International, confirmed for The Messenger the local plant was for sale.
The headquarters for Lennox Hearth Products is in Nashville and there are other manufacturing facilities located in Auburn, Wash., and Laval, Quebec, Canada.
There were no details available concerning the future of the local plant and what if any changes can be expected in the wake of the sale.
One employee at the plant, who spoke about the sale on the condition of anonymity, said the morale at the local plant is good and that news of the same actually comes as a relief. Previously, plant workers were uncertain about their future, the worker said.
“This is the best possible scenario for us,” the worker said about the sale, adding that no major changes are expected.
“Lennox has been a great asset to Obion County with the employment they’ve had here,” County Mayor Benny McGuire told The Messenger Wednesday afternoon.
He described the local Lennox plant as a “good partner.”
“They’ve provided many Obion County families with good jobs over the years and the plant has supported our county,” McGuire said. “We’re looking forward to many more years with Lennox and their new owners.”
News of the Lennox sale had reached state officials in Nashville by Wednesday afternoon.
State Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, told The Messenger he has already contacted key officials within the state Department of Economic and Community Development. He said officials within that department were aware of the sale and planned to be “proactive” in their approach to working with the new owners. One of the programs that could be used is state Fast Track incentive funds, which Obion County is eligible for, due to its depressed economy.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.26.12

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