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S.R. Smith announces sale

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Longtime Canby business has been acquired by Champlain Capital out of California

S.R. Smith announced that it has been acquired by a California company. S.R. Smith, LLC, a Canby-based manufacturer of pool equipment whose products are sold and used worldwide, announced it has been acquired by Champlain Capital, a Calif.-based private equity group.

Lincoln International, a global investment bank, brokered Chicago-based Guard Hill Holdings' sale of S.R. Smith to Champlain Capital, which Guard Hill owned for close to 20 years, said Margaret McGrath, S.R. Smith's vice president of marketing.

McGrath declined to reveal terms of the deal, but said Champlain Capital will provide equity for new product development, organic growth and acquisitions.

"They are interested in the business and they bought it to grow it," McGrath said. "They see potential. We've grown over the last several years and we'd like to continue to grow, and to do that you have to look at investing in new product development and look at buying other businesses we can bolt onto ours and get into some new categories (markets)."

S.R. Smith, founded in Portland in 1932 when it built diving boards made out of Douglas Fir, is one of the largest pool accessory and products manufacturers in the world, and the only company that occupies market space in both the commercial and retail sectors, McGrath said.

In a prepared statement, Gregory Young, managing partner at Guard Hill, said the sale of S.R. Smith resulted in a great outcome for Guard Hill shareholders.

"We are extremely proud of our partnership with the S.R. Smith management team," Young's statement says. "S.R. Smith is well positioned for the future and we wish them well as they continue to expand their footprint in the pool deck equipment arena."

S.R. Smith makes both swimming pool and deck equipment. "Chances are if you've gone into a pool you've probably come into contact with our products at some point," McGrath said.

The company's products are in use at the North Clackamas Aquatic Park, the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center, high schools and colleges throughout Oregon, and they can be found anywhere there are swim competitions, including the Canby Swim Center, McGrath said.

The company's product portfolio features pool deck equipment and ADA compliant pool lifts, slides, diving boards, starting blocks, pool access lifts, ladders, rails, and pool lighting and controls, S.R. Smith's website shows.

McGrath said the global market for swimming pool equipment and accessories continues to grow. Although the sale of S.R. Smith to Champlain Capital is a long-term investment for the latter, Pool and Spa Magazine reports that distributors of pool accessories and equipment are heading into summer 2017 with more optimism than the industry has seen for several years.

In February, investment website Technavio published a market research study of the global pool and spa industry that said the worldwide swimming pool market will increase at a steady 4 percent through 2021. The study says there has been an increase in the construction of luxury hotels around the world with the Americas dominating the global swimming pool market in 2016, largely due to the presence, primarily in the U.S., of pools in apartments and individual houses.

McGrath said S.R. Smith's focuses on people more than places, events or construction forecasts. She said pools bring young families together and that families, especially grandparents, with the space can create their own backyard water park for lasting memories.

"On the commercial side, our products allow people to go and use community pools to improve their overall fitness, and allow them to get in and out of a swimming pool with ease," McGrath said. "It's really wonderful to see someone with limited mobility using our pool lift to lower themselves in and out of the water. It's really pretty amazing to see someone who has difficulty moving on land to get into the water and have complete mobility because the buoyancy allows them to (comfortably move). Anybody who goes into water feels so much better; there are so many healing properties to aquatic activities."

S.R. Smith has 150 employees globally, including Europe and Australia, with about 100 of those workers installed at its Canby location -- the 100,000-square-foot, painted-white facility located across Highway 99E from The Wild Hare Saloon on the west end of town. The company also has a satellite office downtown across the street from Wait Park that it opened relatively recently due to growth, McGrath said.