Baird Capital Partners will announce this morning it has acquired Digi-Star Holdings Inc., a Fort Atkinson, Wis.-based maker of agricultural scales and precision measuring equipment.
Grant Ihrke, Digi-Star's president and chief executive officer, and other top managers at the company will continue to be part owners, said Andrew Brickman, a partner at Baird Capital Partners.
"Management grew the existing business phenomenally and we're looking to continue that trend," Brickman said.
He said the companies are not disclosing the transaction price.
Digi-Star has 100 employees who work in facilities in Fort Atkinson and the Netherlands. The company has grown sales by more than 30% annually during the last few years and plans to expand its international business beyond the 30% of sales it now represents, Brickman said.
He said Digi-Star is a "strong platform business that is well-positioned to become the leading global precision measurement company serving the agricultural sector."
"Here you have a dominant market player in a very well-defined space with an excellent product, leading market position and strong management team that is poised to lead this growth trend in precision agriculture," said Malcolm "Mac" Moore, former chief executive officer at Gehl Corp., which makes some of the farm equipment on which Digi-Star's products are used.
The emerging middle class in countries like China, India and Russia is spurring demand for more and different food, and agriculture is still one of the "terrific industries" in the U.S., Brickman said. Digi-Star already does business in Western Europe and has "tremendous" opportunities in Eastern Europe, Russia and South America, Moore said.
A little more than half of Digi-Star's business involves farm customers who use its equipment to do things like measure the amount and content of cow feed.
The rest involves field customers who use it for tasks like monitoring crop productivity, Brickman said. Field customers use Digi-Star's customized weighing systems and software on mobile farm equipment, for example, to determine how productive different acreages are.
That allows farmers to monitor and evaluate their use of seeds and other inputs and enhance crop yields, Moore said.
Moore and Brickman are joining Digi-Star's board of directors, along with Dave Schroeder, former chief executive officer of Intermatic Inc.