US galvanising firm acquired by transport giant for £9.4m

Hill & Smith has acquired a US galvanising firm, in a deal worth £9.4m.

The transport infrastructure group has purchased Korns Galvanizing Company on a debt and cash free basis as it looks to focus on niche markets.

Korns, located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, has a single site specialising in spin galvanising and generated revenues of $5.5m in 2022. Its customer base is spread across a wide range of infrastructure related markets, including commercial construction, fire protection, oil & gas and utilities.

Whilst its profit margin is “modesty below” Hill & Smith’s divisional average, the firm expects this to improve following the adoption of its operating model.

Korns has operated under private family ownership for over thirty-five years and will now be managed by Hill & Smith’s existing US galvanising business team. The acquisition will expand its production capacity in the northeastern US market and broaden the range of galvanising services available.

Alan Giddins, Executive Chair of Hill & Smith, said: “The acquisition of Korns is in line with our strategy to undertake disciplined M&A with a focus on niche markets with excellent long term growth potential.

“The acquisition strengthens our presence in the growing US galvanising market, brings a complementary customer base and broadens the services we can offer to our existing customers. I am delighted to welcome Korns, a business we know well, and its employees to Hill & Smith.”

The group also reported a 26% increase in its operating profit, finishing the year with £97.1m (2021: 77.3m).

It also saw a 17% increase in revenue in 2022, taking in £732.1m (2021: £625.2m).

Its purchase of Korns has continued its acquisition streak which began in October with the purchase of US firm National Signal in a deal worth around £22.2m and Widnes Galvanising for £3.7m.

Hill & Smith also disposed of its French galvanising and steel lighting column operations, France Galva for £62m, which it says reduced its exposure to the lower growth and lower margin French galvanising market.

Its purchase of Texas-based Enduro Composites for $35m (£28.7m) followed in February 2023.