Cape Electrical Supply, a fixture of the Cape Girardeau business scene for more than 50 years, has been sold to a group of investors that include top managers and a Chicago-based equity firm.
The company, founded in 1953 by J.P. Tlapek, was owned by John C. Tlapek, who purchased it in 1986, and John Daniel, said Allen Toole, president of the company.
Svoboda, Collins LLC of Chicago took a major stake in the new company with Toole, Tlapek and Daniel taking minority interests, Toole said.
He declined to disclose the terms of the sale.
The company, which is primarily a wholesaler, distributes electrical and communications products to commercial, industrial, residential, institutional and utility customers. Cape Electric has grown into a company with 18 locations in four states and 140 employees, with sales in 2006 of about $70 million, Toole said.
There will be no changes in management or employees, Toole said. "We viewed it as an opportunity to take the company to the next level, remain independent and continue doing business in the fashion we were," he said. "We will continue growing and control our own destiny."
Cape Electric, which is on Kell Farm Drive near Bloomfield Road, operates a nearby retail outlet called Southfork Lighting.
The change of ownership was completed Nov. 6 when paperwork describing the merger of Cape Electrical Supply Inc., a Missouri corporation, and Cape Electrical Supply LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, was filed with the Missouri Secretary of State's office.
In a statement issued that day to customers and suppliers, Cape Electric's managers said the new ownership structure will "provide the necessary capital and expertise to broaden our presence in the industry and remain a distributor of choice among our valued customer base."
Svoboda, Collins, in a statement about the investment, noted that it seeks investments in targeted areas including value-added distribution, consumer products and business services. The company said it has $220 million of committed capital.
"We look forward to maintaining the strong culture that Cape has developed while partnering with their outstanding management team in the company's next phase of growth," John Svoboda, senior managing director, said in the prepared statement.
John Tlapek is a Cape Girar-deau native, son of P.T. "Pat" Tlapek, and owner of Summit Equity Group LLC of Clayton, Mo. In addition to Cape Electric, he holds a controlling interest in Schaefer Electrical Enclosures Inc. of Advance, Mo., and Auto Tire and Parts Co. Inc., a Cape Girardeau-based company founded by his father that has 40 locations.
Tlapek made news headlines in 2003 when he traveled across the country with his dog Charley, making donations of $10,000 to $25,000 to charitable agencies that did not rely on government funds.
Over the course of a 10-week trek, Tlapek donated nearly $500,000.
Tlapek could not be reached Monday for comment on the sale.
While the statements issued by Cape Electric and Svoboda, Collins both spoke of continued growth for the company, Toole said he wasn't ready to announce any specific plans for expansion or additional locations.
"We do expect further expansion both through acquisitions and start-ups," Toole said.
Svoboda, Collins brings financial muscle and management expertise to the venture, Toole said, assets that will help when those acquisitions and start-ups come to fruition.
"The management team are still the owners of the business," he said.
"Svoboda are more investors."
The credit for making the company strong and attractive to investors should go to the employees, Toole said.
"The real story is about the employees, who were building this company, and us bringing in Svoboda."
There had been no widespread announcement of the new ownership structure because there was no change in management, Toole said. "We were really trying to keep it low key."
335-6611, extension 126