Gryphon Investors acquires iconic penetrating oil brand
Photo courtesy of Kano Laboratories

Gryphon Investors acquires iconic penetrating oil brand

Gryphon Investors, a leading middle-market private equity firm, has acquired Kano Laboratories, a market leading producer of iconic, branded penetrating oils and lubricants sold into industrial maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) and consumer markets. 

Gryphon intends to build a leading platform in the branded specialty chemicals sector. This represents the first deal closed by Gryphon’s Heritage Fund team, a new small-cap fund offering launched by Gryphon earlier this year. 

Financial terms for the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1939 and based in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A., Kano is the leading producer of industrial strength penetrating oils and lubricants, offering high quality products to some of the world’s leading businesses. The company’s key Kroil and AeroKroil branded products are trusted by professionals to loosen rusted, corroded, or frozen mechanical parts. The company serves a large, diversified customer base with broad market exposure, including Fortune 1,000 Companies in all 50 states and internationally.

“Our investment in Kano is a continuation of Gryphon’s successful proactive sector initiatives in both Enthusiast Brands and Specialty Chemicals, and also leverages insights gained from current portfolio company Mechanix Wear and former portfolio company K&N Engineering,” said Keith Stimson, deal partner and head of the Heritage Fund Team at Gryphon.

 “We’re excited to partner with Kano and its management team as we build on the company’s strong reputation for efficacy and expand its presence in the market,” said  Amanda Kalin, a deal principal in Gryphon’s Heritage Fund Group.

Kano’s management team will be led by newly appointed CEO Sevan Demirdogen, a former group president in the Polymers and Fluids segment of Illinois Tool Works (ITW). 

“Sevan was instrumental in helping us underwrite this acquisition and is uniquely qualified to lead Kano with extensive experience in the Industrial penetrating oils and lubricants space and MRO distribution,” said Gryphon Heritage Fund Operating Partner Craig Nikrant.

Demirdogen will also serve on the board, along with several executive advisors who have experience within the specialty chemicals and industrial distribution channel sectors, including Mike Irwin, a 23-year veteran and former CFO of WD40, who will serve as Kano’s executive chairman.

“Kano Labs has built an incredible reputation among professionals as the premium product in the industry. Gryphon’s investment will enable the company to accelerate organic growth as the team has already identified optimization opportunities to create go-forward value and further position Kano as a market leader,” said Nikrant. 

Gryphon was advised by legal counsel Kirkland & Ellis, and financial advisor Piper Sandler. Houlihan Lokey served as the exclusive financial advisor to Kano Laboratories, and Bass, Berry & Sims served as legal counsel.

About Gryphon Investors

Based in San Francisco, Gryphon Investors is a leading private equity firm focused on profitably growing and competitively enhancing middle-market companies in partnership with experienced management. The firm has managed more than USD5.0 billion of equity investments and capital since 1997. Gryphon targets making equity investments of USD50 million to USD300 million in portfolio companies with enterprise values ranging from approximately USD100 million to USD600 million. Gryphon prioritises investment opportunities where it can form strong partnerships with owners and executives to build leading companies, utilising Gryphon’s capital, specialised professional resources, and operational expertise.