Blackthorne Partners in Brookfield acquires fireplace door manufacturer

Freeman Staff

April 1, 2015

BROOKFIELD — Blackthorne Partners of Brookfield will acquire Design Specialties, Inc. of Milwaukee and will be led by Michael Draves as president.

Design Specialties is a manufacturer of fireplace doors, screens and other hearth accessories sold at specialty hearth retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Its owner, Pat Gengler, decided to sell the company as he prepared to retire, according to the announcement. The acquisition went into effect March 30. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Draves, who has extensive experience in consumer products sectors, is partnering with Blackthorne Partners in the acquisition. The company, founded in 1983, will remain at 11100 W. Heather Ave., on Milwaukee’s northwest side.

“I was very selective in choosing the new ownership,” Gengler said in a statement. “I wanted an ownership group who was entrepreneurial, had the owner/operator mentality, had capital to invest and was customer-focused. I wanted someone who understood our culture and our tradition of excellence. I found everything I was looking for with Mike Draves and Blackthorne Partners.”

Draves’ business experience includes leadership positions with Ariens, Sears, Pacific Cycle and Kohler.

Blackthorne Partners has steadily increased its portfolio of Wisconsin companies during the past few years and is actively seeking other Midwestern firms to acquire.