Equity Firm Buys Lubes Distributor


Private equity firm OpenGate Capital has acquired Chemsolv Inc., a Virginia-based regional distributor of commodity and specialty chemicals, including lubricants, surfactants, additives and other products. Terms were not disclosed.

OpenGate said it had acquired the business from the Austin family, who will continue to retain an ownership stake and role in the company.

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Roanoke-based Chemsolv was founded in 1979 by Glen Austin and has four mid-Atlantic distribution centers in key chemical markets with access to major highway corridors in South Carolina and Tennessee, along with two distribution centers in Virginia.  The distributor has a fleet of 41 trucks and approximately 1.5 million gallons of bulk storage capacity. Chemsolv distributes more than 1,000 chemical products. Markets include construction, roofing, chemical intermediates, paints and coatings. In addition to distribution, the company provides other value-added services, including blending, packaging, formulation, solvent recovery, transportation and transloading.

“Today represents an important point in Chemsolv’s 40-plus-year history through our partnership with OpenGate,” Chemsolv President Jamie Austin, who will remain in the role, said in a news release. “Our business is well poised for growth and expansion, and we’re looking forward to continuing to serve our customer base.”

Established in 2005, OpenGate Capital has headquarters in Los Angeles, California, and a European office in Paris, France. To date, OpenGate has executed more than 30 acquisitions.

Verdant Specialty Solutions was formed in April 2021 after OpenGate Capital acquired the surfactants business from the chemical company Solvay and renamed it. Last year, Verdant acquired several other companies.

In July, Verdant acquired specialty surfactants company DeForest Enterprises, based in Boca Raton, Florida.  DeForest’s surfactants are used in metalworking fluids for lubrication, emulsification and corrosion inhibition. Also in July, Verdant acquired ParaFlow Energy Solutions, which provides products applicable to paraffin mitigation in upstream crude oil production and technologies for use in demulsifier applications.

In October, Verdant acquired another surfactants maker, Baze Chemical, with headquarters in Odessa, Texas. Baze manufactures drilling fluids lubricants, which are used in slim-hole directional drilling and reduce torque, drag and metal surface wear. The company offers both an oil-soluble product and a water-soluble product. It also produces surfactants, emulsifiers and corrosion inhibitors that can be used in lubricants.