Private equity firms have amassed sizable stakes in countless glamorous businesses, from casinos lining the Vegas strip to professional sports teams. But some of the most alluring investments come from everyday places.
PE industry stalwart Blackstone Group has just agreed to buy the family-owned Chamberlain Group — parent of top-of-the-line garage door opener purveyor, LiftMaster. The Wall Street Journal reported news of the deal Tuesday, which values the company at roughly $5 billion including debt.
While arguably not as hip as some of Blackstone’s digital investments like dating app suite Bumble or family history service Ancestry, Illinois-based Chamberlain’s garage door openers are relied on by millions of homes and businesses worldwide.
Owner of the LiftMaster, Chamberlain, Grifco, and Merlin brands, the firm’s myQ platform grants users garage door control via an app, useful for remote acceptance of food and grocery deliveries or to simply let the pet out for a stroll. And a partnership with Amazon launched in 2019 offers Prime customers in select cities packages delivered securely right into their garages. With a business model as reliable and adaptive as Chamberlain’s, Blackstone wants in for the long haul:
- The investment firm is tapping its core private-equity fund for the deal, which targets top-notch businesses to buy and hold for 15 years or longer, rather than the 5 to 10-year investment lifespan pursued by typical buyout funds.
- “This is a group that realized connectivity was really important,” said Peter Wallace, head of Blackstone’s core private-equity business, of Chamberlain. “Even before they figured out how they were going to get paid for it, they decided to WiFi-enable every garage-door opener.”
Opening More Doors: The renewed housing boom in the U.S. is a bullish trend for Chamberlain, but Blackstone is eyeing an expansion of the firm’s connected-services enterprise to reach well beyond single-family households to more commercial and industrial markets.
It’s probably a solid strategy — HOA communities and truck loading docks typically have more garages to keep in operation than your neighbor. Unless your neighbor is Jay Leno, of course.