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A fairy-tale merger?

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The merger between HydroHoist Marine Group and ShoreMaster had been in the works for about six months. But Oklahoma-based HydroHoist had been thinking about mergers and acquisitions for at least a year before the merger was announced yesterday.

“Our advisory board, which includes two titans of manufacturing outside marine, knew we were running hard and growing. They thought it’d be a good time to find a partner of equal strength,” Mick Webber, CEO of HydroHoist, told Trade Only Today. “I’ve been with the company since 1985 and understood how we’d organized ourselves for the long term in terms of strength and sustainability. We wanted to find someone else who offered the same kind of outlook and synergies, without competitive operations.”

ShoreMaster, with operations in Minnesota, dominates the “bottom-standing hoist market,” while HydroHoist is a leader in hydro-pneumatic boat lifts, according to Webber. “We couldn’t have found a better partner,” he says. “There is no overlap in the product lines and the same goes with manufacturing. They are very craftsman-like in their manufacturing, while we bring value in our rotomolding processes with strong distribution channels. We both also have very strong brands.”

The merger will not involve cutting the workforces or mothballing facilities at either company. “With our rotomolding capabilities, I see an increase for our volume of work in Oklahoma. I believe we will add to our head counts going forward,” said Webber.

The corporate structure will also remain in place, at least for the immediate future, with both management teams running their respective companies. “We’ll address changes as it relates to top management in the future, but everyone is on the same page at the moment,” says Webber. “We couldn’t be happier with finding them as a partner. They have similar cultures, management styles, and excellent products.”

The two companies will have a 700-plus dealer network, with HydroHoist retaining a stronger international presence. That, says Webber, will serve ShoreMaster well in markets outside the U.S. “This merger provides new dealer opportunities without us having to overlap existing market shares,” he adds.

Will the fairy-tale marriage last for the long term?

The merger did not involve the “typical pain points in the marketplace” that many mergers between typical competitors entail, says Webber.

“We looked at this long and hard and just can’t see where it’s going to be tough,” says Webber. “We always asked three questions: Is this merger good for our customers/dealers, good for our employees and good for the company? The boxes were evenly checked for both of us. And when you add in the similarities of culture and the same pursuits of innovation and quality, we see no downsides.” 

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