Headquartered in Cleveland, OH, with 14 US facilities, and others in China, Italy, & Mexico.
Aerospace, Industrial, Agricultural and Construction Equipment, Defense, Mining, Fluid Power, Lawn and Garden
Brake and clutch systems, powder metal components, performance automotive brakes, clutches and transmissions, electric motor components
OEM and Aftermarket – Boeing, Caterpillar, John Deere, United States Defense Dept., Eaton, Parker Hannifin, United Technologies, Honeywell
Founded in 1989, Berlin Started in 1991
Design, manufacture and distribution of precision engineered components including brake, clutch, transmission systems, powder metal and metal injected molded structural parts, and high-performance automotive systems/components
Berlin joined Hawk Corporation in 1991 as Director of Corporate Development, with the objective to lead a growth program. At the time, the Company was less than $20 million in sales and had around 80 employees with two production operations in Ohio. After several promotions throughout the early 90s, Jeff became President, COO, and Director, responsible for day-to-day operations.
1991 Berlin joined Hawk Management Team as Director Corporate Development
1994 Roles in Operations, Finance, Sales, Started Acquisition Program
1994 Acquired Helsel Inc (Powder Metal Components)
1994-1998 Acquired Sinterloy, Clearfield, Allegheny, and Net Shape to form Hawk Precision Components
1995 Acquired SK Wellman (Friction Materials Aerospace, Industrial)
1997 Promoted to President, COO, Board Member Hawk
1998 IPO on NYSE “HWK” - $254 million
2003 1,600 Team Members, 16 Plants, 5 Countries, 3 Continents
2007 Sale to Carlisle $400 million, after Precision Components Group Sold for $100 million
Built Management Team
Executed Numerous Acquisitions (11 Acquisitions in 12 years)
Expanded Regionally & Internationally
Led Multiple Public Financings (Equity IPO 1998, Bond Offerings)
Berlin led a team that completed 11 acquisitions in the years leading up to 2000. The acquisitions were strategically sourced with a focus on friction materials, powder metal components and performance racing systems. Acquisition integration was key to Hawk’s success as companies shared best practices and leveraged their strengths to create synergies.
With an active acquisition program, the team at Hawk became skilled at identifying great future partners based upon their team culture and fit. From initial due diligence through integration and growth, Berlin and the team developed a proven playbook for success. The acquired companies were typically owned and run by entrepreneurial founders that desired a smooth transition and bright future for their business. The teams were incentivized by the performance of their businesses and were given new tools to better analyze and grow their business.
The markets that Hawk served were cyclical in nature, often experiencing large swings in demand. The aerospace business was particularly impacted by the Gulf War and 9/11, while industrial markets like construction equipment, agriculture equipment, and trucks were heavily influenced by the global economy and spending cycles.
Acquisitions were only part of the growth story at Hawk. Lasting organic growth was generated by winning market share, implementing stringent operations and safety programs, and expanding into domestic and global markets, including a start-up facility in Suzhou, China, and acquisitions in the UK, and acquiring plants in Italy and Mexico.
The business invested in people and systems to improve product development, quality and distribution. Capital was invested in new equipment and international expansion. Hawk worked closely with its customers to create new production facilities in China, Europe, and Mexico. At the corporate level Hawk created efficient back-office functions to handle HR, systems, finance, and global sourcing.
Hawk Long-Term Results
Sales grew by over 12X
Company went public on NYSE (“HWK”) in 1998 at $250 million market cap.
$500 million of market value was created after spin-off of Powder Metal Group and ultimate sale of the Hawk friction business to Carlisle Corp in 2010.
The Bottom Line
Many lessons from Hawk carried forward into the formation of Bridge Industries in 2003. Like Hawk, Bridge strongly believes that investment in people, integrity and ethics, focus on customers, and entrepreneurial growth can generate tremendous value for a business and its shareholders.
There is an emphasis on long term growth. Berlin and the team at Bridge have successfully led businesses through a variety of market cycles and conditions, and are confident in their ability to tackle the unforeseen challenges of the future.
Bridge and its operating units have often gained on competition in downturns because of its long-term mindset. Unlike many competitors, Bridge seeks to keep key staff on board, maintain customer intimacy, and continue deploying dry powder capital to position the business for future growth.