FourBridges Capital Advisors announced Monday that Southeast Lineman Training Center completed a recapitalization transaction to bring in an additional growth-oriented partner to fuel additional opportunities. FourBridges led the transaction on behalf of SLTC owners, David Powell, PJ Nardy and private equity firm Sovereign's Capital.
Based in Trenton, just 20 miles from Chattanooga across the Tennessee state line, SLTC is a school for electrical and communications lineworker training. Established in 1999, SLTC is one of the largest lineworker training schools in the United States, training more than 1,000 linemen annually.
SLTC has experienced rapid growth with the surging demand for linemen, due to the national focus on upgrading the power grid and communications infrastructure, along with the widespread retirement of veteran linemen. In 2020, Mr. Powell and Mr. Nardy partnered with private equity firm Sovereign’s Capital to help unlock the growth potential of the company in a manner consistent with the values of the company.
“The partnership has been a tremendous success,” said Mr. Powell, “and we have been able to deliver on our mission to provide training in a realistic and challenging environment, where individuals can establish the foundation necessary to succeed as lineworkers in the electrical utility and communications industries.”
Mr. Nardy underscored the importance of quality partnerships, noting, “Outstanding companies are built on outstanding cultures, and those are built on trust. With Sovereign’s Capital, we have had a partner we can trust.”
Having experienced significant growth, and because they were receiving a lot of unsolicited inquiries, the owners agreed to assess the market to determine their options and identify additional partners interested in investing in the future of SLTC. Their first call was to Ralph Montgomery, managing director at FourBridges Capital, because FourBridges had led a successful transaction on behalf of Sovereign’s Capital in 2022 and Mr. Powell and Mr. Nardy were familiar with multiple members of the FourBridges team.
“Sovereign's had a great outcome working with FourBridges on a previous transaction,” said Michael Tremain, managing partner of Sovereign’s Equity’s private equity practice. “It only made sense to re-engage their team whom we knew could run an efficient process to maximize value on the best possible terms with the best possible partner. Their experience in the Industrial Services sector was extremely helpful on this transaction as well.”
According to Mr. Powell, “We had received inquiries from several larger firms and felt we knew who the most likely investors would be. However, we were impressed by the large number of parties that FourBridges brought to the table, and their expertise in leading us through a very complex and time-consuming process,” he said. “We were delighted with the outcome”
After conducting a broad process and reviewing a number of attractive offers from qualified parties, the team was confident that they found the best fit based on the alignment around transaction terms, strategic vision and company culture.
"We couldn't be more pleased to help SLTC achieve its objectives and protect the family’s legacy by partnering with a strategic and financial partner that will help unleash the company’s full growth potential,” said Ralph Montgomery, FourBridges managing director. “From cultural alignment to immediate synergies with its existing portfolio companies, an attractive operating partner approach, and aggressive growth orientation, it was the perfect fit."
“It was a pleasure working with David, PJ and the Sovereign’s team“ added Andrew Allred, vice president at FourBridges. “It was gratifying to see the amount of interest that was generated based on the company’s performance and reputation in the marketplace.”
With additional investment, SLTC will continue to accelerate growth, and has plans to expand the existing campus to accommodate more students. As part of that growth strategy, SLTC will be actively pursuing add-on investment opportunities. Mr. Powell, Mr. Nardy and Sovereign’s Capital will continue as owners, and Mr. Powell and Mr. Nardy will continue in their roles at the helm of the company.
Legal advisors to SLTC and the ownership group were David Spiller and Merrill Nelson of Miller & Martin LLP and Tyler Hand of Holland & Knight LLP.