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Cole-Parmer: Building a Leader in Life Sciences and Lab Products through The Leaders StrategyCole-Parmer: Building a Leader in Life Sciences and Lab Products through The Leaders Strategy™

August 16, 2017

GTCR has long viewed the life sciences and laboratory products sectors as attractive areas for investment given a good growth outlook for research funding and a fragmented market landscape. Following the firm’s proactive efforts in the space, GTCR formed a Leader’s StrategyTM partnership in 2014 with industry veteran Bernd Brust. GTCR’s relationship with Mr. Brust dated back to 2009, when he was the Chief Commercial Operations Officer at Life Technologies Corporation. He subsequently became President and CEO of Qualicaps, a leading provider of capsule manufacturing and processing equipment for pharmaceutical companies, before partnering with GTCR.

GTCR and Mr. Brust evaluated several acquisition opportunities across the sector, ultimately acquiring Cole-Parmer from Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO) in August 2014. Over the course of the next three years, GTCR and Mr. Brust transformed Cole-Parmer from an orphaned operating segment within a large global company into a market-leading standalone business via investment in organic growth and M&A.

Founded in 1955 and acquired by Thermo Fisher in 2001, Cole-Parmer is a global manufacturer and distributor of laboratory research products specializing in fluid handling, test and measurement, and general laboratory products sold to a diverse range of customers in the healthcare, biotech, pharmaceutical, environmental and food industries.

Following the acquisition, GTCR, Mr. Brust and the Cole-Parmer management team carved out and built the business into a standalone entity. Concurrently, several new senior-level managers were recruited to help operate and grow the newly independent business.

After the separation from Thermo Fisher was completed in early 2015, GTCR and Mr. Brust invested in organic growth initiatives, including reinvesting in the commercial infrastructure by expanding the direct sales force in several new geographies as well as redesigning the company’s e-commerce capabilities. In addition, Cole-Parmer invested in new product development initiatives to grow its branded product portfolio.

GTCR also recognized the opportunity to transform Cole-Parmer through add-on acquisitions in the fragmented lab products space. Under GTCR’s ownership, Cole-Parmer completed six strategic add-on acquisitions that collectively enhanced the company’s product portfolio, grew its manufacturing capabilities and expanded its geographic footprint in Europe and Asia. The six acquisitions also increased Cole-Parmer’s exposure to higher growth end-markets, such as environmental testing, pharmaceuticals and biotech.

After demonstrating success as a standalone organization with the ability to grow organically and through strategic M&A, Cole-Parmer attracted interest from several parties and was ultimately acquired by Golden Gate Capital in March 2017.