Sherman & Reilly sold to Greenlee utility firm

Sherman & Reilly sold to Greenlee utility firm

May 2nd, 2013 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

As they test their new machinery for installing power transmission lines, Sherman and Reilly workers show visiting power company officials their newest product. Manufactured in Chattanooga, company officials say it is the largest such machine ever built.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

The investment duo who helped turn around the fortunes of Sherman & Reilly over the past three years cashed in on their business venture and sold the 87-year-old manufacturer this week.

But the pair aren't going anywhere and insist the local business should fare even better as part of a bigger utility equipment manufacturer.

Greenlee, a Textron Inc. company, announced Wednesday it bought Sherman & Reilly Inc., a Chattanooga-based manufacturer of underground and aerial transmission and distribution products.

Founded in 1927, Sherman & Reilly supplies equipment for the power utility and fiber optic industries and currently employs 110 workers. The company projects it will generate sales of more than $40 million this year.

Under the ownership and management of Mike Dunn and Douglas Diamond, the company has been retooled and refocused and boosted sales last year by 40 percent, Dunn said. In addition to its portfolio of pulling products and accessories, Sherman and Reilly will continue to manufacture a range of cable installation blocks and distribute fiber-optic blowing systems for the telecommunication market.

Textron is a $12.2 billion-a-year company which operates plants around the world making aircraft, defense and industrial products.

Terms of the sale of were not disclosed.

Scott Hall, president of Greenlee and the Textron Industrial Segment, said Sherman & Reilly "is an acknowledged leader in heavy pulling products for distribution and transmission applications" and is "a logical complement" to Greenlee Utility and Gator products.

"Like Greenlee Utility, the company has a strong brand built on innovation and service to the utility professional," Hall said in a statement announcing the purchase.

Dunn, general manager of Sherman & Reilly and a partner in Equity South Advisors LLC, said the combination "will further accelerate our growth and provide new opportunities for our talented employees."

Dunn, who bought the company from the founding Reilly family, said he turned down other offers from prospective buyers who simply wanted the name and products from Sherman & Reilly.

"We very much believe in our brand, our people and our customers and we wanted to make sure any buyer was serious about keeping the current management and people in place," Dunn said.

The 64-year-old head of the company, who has previously built up and sold other manufacturing ventures, said he plans to keep working at Sherman & Reilly "as long as I keep having fun."

The Chattanooga company will operate as a separate business unit within Greenlee, led by Dunn.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340