When publicly-traded Lincoln Electric Holdings acquired Fori Automation, it was one of a few industrial automation companies that was still privately owned and of significant size and scope. Over the last 10 years, many of Fori’s competitors have been acquired by overseas companies or private equity firms. The $427 million deal, which marks Lincoln Electric’s largest acquisition so far, closed in December of last year.

Founding Family’s Terms

Headquartered in Shelby Township, Mich., Fori was founded in 1984 by Arthur Koerner shortly after he immigrated from Germany. When the Koerner family decided it was the right time to sell, one of the most important considerations, aside from valuation and deal terms, was to find a buyer that appreciated and committed to maintaining Fori’s culture.

It was also important to Fori’s executive team and ownership that the buyer be based in the U.S., have a Midwest culture and be well-capitalized to make future investments needed to properly grow in the electrified space. Ultimately, Cleveland, Ohio-based Lincoln Electric was a great strategic fit and still maintained a family culture despite being a public company.

The deal highlighted Michigan’s homegrown talent in manufacturing automation equipment for a blue-chip customer base. Lincoln plans to continue investing in Michigan organically and through M&A.

Larger Automation Footprint

The acquisition strengthems Lincoln Electric’s goal of achieving $1 billion in automation sales by 2025. The deal also puts Lincoln in a position to capitalize on opportunities with accelerating investments in automotive electric vehicle platforms and cross-selling growth for the company’s industrial customers. By leveraging each of their core competencies, both Lincoln and Fiori will be able to offer customers a broader range of automation equipment and capabilities.

In addition, it expands Lincoln’s automation footprint in South Korea and India and its existing presence in Europe, China and Latin America.

For more Deals of the Year coverage, see Mergers and Acquisitions Names the 2023 Middle-Market Deals of the Year.