Brunswick Buys Out Valley-Dynamo

It certainly helps to have “parents” with deep pockets. Parent company Brunswick Corp. may have doubled the annual sales of its billiards division — aka Brunswick Billiards — on June 10 when it announced its acquisition of coin-operated pool table giant Valley-Dynamo LP from private equity firm Fenway Partners and Dynamo founder Bill Ricketts. Brunswick purchased the Richland, Tex.-based company for $34.5 million in cash. According to Fenway Partners, Valley-Dynamo had net sales of $35 million in 2002.

With the acquisition, brand heritage-conscious Brunswick gains the No. 1 brand in coin-operated pool tables in Valley-Dynamo, and the No. 1 brands in consumer table soccer and air hockey with the Tornado, Valley and Dynamo brand names.

“When someone tells you that you have an opportunity to acquire the No. 1 brands in several categories, you get excited,” said Mark McCleary, vice president of marketing for Brunswick Billiards. “And by using our strengths in marketing, design and sourcing, we feel we can build on those brands.”
According to McCleary, Valley-Dynamo will retain its corporate identity, and will operate as a separate division of Brunswick Billiards.

“The division will maintain its current sales force and will have its own general manager, who will replace Bill Ricketts when Bill retires at the end of the year,” said McCleary. Ricketts had served as CEO of Valley-Dynamo LP.

Valley-Dynamo merged in 1998, when Fenway Partners, which had purchased then Bay City, Mich.-based Valley Manufacturing in 1995, partnered with Ricketts to combine the coin-op table companies into one manufacturing facility. In the gravy days of the late 1970s and early 1990s, domestic production of coin-operated pool tables was estimated at around 25,000 tables a year. A weak economy and continued slide in the coin-op industry have cut that number in half, or worse, some experts say.
“Valley-Dynamo still has very strong brand names, and very strong market channels,” said Ricketts, 58, who founded Dynamo in 1978 with the introduction of table soccer games. “And Brunswick’s marketing expertise will add strength to those brands.

“Brunswick was clearly the best buyer we could have hoped for,” added Ricketts. “It’s a great fit and a very synergistic acquisition.”