Gridiron Capital’s recent investment in personal protective equipment company Vertical Supply Group is more than just making deals in a resilient sector. VSG, like many of Gridiron’s portfolio companies, focuses on ESG, a topic that has moved to the top of the list for many PE firms.
“At Gridiron, we understand the value of integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance considerations into our investment process,” Gridiron co-founder Tom Burger tells Mergers & Acquisitions. “As stewards of capital, we build long-term relationships through trust and respect, and we view sustainability and governance initiatives as a way to create value across the portfolio. This value is created by improving products and services to better suit customer needs, building brand value, recruiting and engaging a high-quality workforce, reducing costs, reducing risks, and improving efficiency.”
VSG, based in Greensboro, N.C., makes and sells fall protective equipment, such as ropes, for the tree care, climbing and rescue industries.
But is not just the growth opportunities through acquisitions that Gridiron sees in VSG. It is also the values the target places on ESG. In 2021, VSG achieved carbon neutrality by offsetting 100 percent of its carbon emissions through the purchase of qualifying carbon credits and entered a multi-year partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to support reforestation efforts and carbon offset projects.
VSG is not the only Gridiron portfolio company that has made ESG a priority. Here are some other examples: Foundation Wellness is one of only six footwear manufacturers worldwide that earned the distinction of a Recognized Responsible Footwear Manufacturer by the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America. Another is Royal Paper, which recovers and reuses 50 percent of the water used in the paper making process.
And I know the list goes on with many other PE firms doing something similar.
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– Demitri Diakantonis