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AxleTech International Acquired by The Carlyle Group


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Trailer/Body Builders / January 7, 2015

Private equity firm The Carlyle Group has acquired AxleTech International, a global engineering and manufacturing company for off-highway and specialty vehicle drivetrain systems and components, from General Dynamics Corporation.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Carlyle previously owned the business from 2005 to 2008.

Mary Petrovich, CEO of AxleTech from 2002-2011, will rejoin the firm as Executive Chairman. Joe Mejaly, who joined the business in May 2014 as General Manager, will become CEO under Carlyle’s ownership.

Carlyle Managing Director Adam Glucksman said, “In partnership with Mary and Joe we will help AxleTech grow its market share through a relentless commitment to innovation, quality and service. We are delighted Mary is rejoining the firm as Executive Chairman. She is a remarkable leader with a track record of value creation for her customers and our investors.”

Petrovich said, “AxleTech has a rich 100-year history that offers its customers a broad portfolio of products, extensive market expertise and talented employees. I am eager to work with Joe, who brings a wealth of experience in off- and on-highway products, with strong skills in the aftermarket. Joe will drive the business to ensure satisfied customers with a singular perspective committed to its unique markets and capabilities.”

Mejaly said, “AxleTech’s management team and workforce is focused aggressively on being faster to market with the right components and systems, and prioritizing improved interactions with all customers, both current and potential.”


Note: AxleTech’s roots stem from Rockwell.

It all goes back to the year 1899 in St. Louis when Henry Timken and his two sons, H.H. and William, founded the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company to produce the senior Timken’s newly patented tapered roller bearing.

After relocating to Canton, Ohio in 1902, the axle business was split off under son William Timken, relocated to Detroit, and renamed the Timken-Detroit Axle Company in 1909 (the bearing business was renamed the Timken Roller Bearing Company).

Now MIT graduate William Rockwell enters the picture. Following the end of World War I, he went to work as manager of the engineering department for the Torbensen Gear & Axle Company (founded by Joe Eaton, brother-in-law Henning Taube and Viggo Torbensen in 1911), where he designed a double-reduction axle. After his design was rejected by senior management, he left Torbensen in 1919 and established the Oshkosh-based Wisconsin Parts Company to produce his self-designed worm-drive and double-reduction axles.

In 1929, Timken-Detroit Axle acquired Willard Rockwell’s Wisconsin Parts to form Timken-Detroit Axle & Wisconsin Axle.

Willard Rockwell became president of Timken-Detroit Axle in 1933, and in 1953 established the Rockwell Spring and Axle Company by merging Wisconsin Axle, Timken-Detroit Axle, and Standard Steel and Spring (which produced driveline components from 1914).

In 1958 was renamed Rockwell-Standard Corporation. The now Pittsburgh-based company then acquired and merged with Los Angeles-based North American Aviation (of P-51 Mustang fame) to form North American Rockwell in September 1967.

After acquiring avionics manufacturer Collins Radio in 1973, the company merged with Rockwell Manufacturing (run by Willard Rockwell Jr.) to form Rockwell International.

In 1988, Rockwell purchased France’s SOMA Europe Transmissions SA, known for their rugged planetary hub reduction off-road axles, to develop a European market base.

Rockwell spun off its automotive unit in 1997 resulting in the establishment of Meritor, which evolved into ArvinMeritor in 2000 (ArvinMeritor became Meritor again in 2011).

Private equity firm Wynnchurch Capital and Resilience Capital bought the business unit from a struggling ArvinMeritor in 2002 and named it AxleTech.

Carlyle Group bought it (the first time) from Wynnchurch in 2005, and General Dynamics acquired it in December 2008.

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