Thompson Acquires Express Oil


Thompson Street Capital Partners acquired Express Oil Change, a chain of 172 U.S. quick lubes, from Carousel Capital for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Birmingham, Ala., Express Oil Change and its franchisees operate 172 service centers in Alabama, Georgia, Tenneessee, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. Founded in 1979, Express provides oil change services, along with light automotive service and repair work.

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On June 28 Carousel said it acquired a majority ownership position in the business from Richard Brooks and Joe Watson, the owners and management of Express, in 2005. Both maintained significant ownership stakes in the business through Carousels ownership.

Carousel Capital managing partner Jason Schmidly said the firm only sold Express Oil because it was time to harvest a return for Carousels investors. We generally own businesses for three to seven years and make a decision to sell when our investment objectives have been met, Schmidly told Lube Report. We are very bullish on their future – but just had to realize the return. The results from that investment were excellent.

Carousel Capital has actively invested in the automotive market for most of the past decade, Schmidly noted, beginning with its acquisition of Meineke in 2003, subsequently sold in 2005. We believe in the long-term fundamental trends that have made the automotive aftermarket grow consistently for many years, and will continue to look for opportunities to invest more in the future, he added.

We look forward to working with Thompson Street Capital Partners to drive continued growth in our served markets and to pursue expansion opportunities in attractive new markets, said Richard Brooks, chairman and CEO of Express Oil Change.

We see great promise and future growth in this unique segment of the independent automotive service industry, said Bill Willhite, executive vice president of Thompson Street Capital. As people drive more miles in increasingly older vehicles, demand for a total care service provider that is both convenient and reliable is higher than ever.

Joe and I had known the people at Carousel Capital for several years before they acquired our business, Express Oils Brooks noted. Carousels financial and strategic guidance allowed us to achieve our long-term goals of rapidly growing the company while continuing to seek ways to improve the Express business model for our franchisees. Express Oil Change grew through company owned and franchised location additions, margin enhancement initiatives and acquisitions within the company owned operating footprint, Carousel stated.

Carousel Capital is a private investment firm that invests in companies in the southeastern United States. Carousel invests primarily in business services, consumer products and services, and health care services.

St. Louis-based Thompson Street Capital manages more than $445 million in private equity, with a focus on investments in middle-market companies in manufacturing, service and distribution businesses. Before the Express Oil Change acquisition, Thompsons portfolio did not include any other quick lube operations.

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