Evergreen Pacific Partners Buys Majority Stake in VMI

Evergreen Pacific Partners, a private equity fund, has acquired a majority stake in Vantage Mobility International (VMI), an adaptive automotive manufacturer based in Phoenix.

In a Feb. 4 news announcement, VMI said its president/CEO Doug Eaton, and its CFO Tim Barone, "will retain significant ownership stakes in the company and continue to lead its operations."

The investment by Evergreen Pacific Partners, the announcement said, "will be used to fuel further expansion by the vehicle manufacturer."

Evergreen Pacific Partners, based in Seattle, describes itself as the state of Washington's largest private equity fund. The company manages two private equity funds worth $700 million total.

"Our team is passionate about helping our customers improve their lives," said Eaton in the announcement. "Evergreen's involvement in VMI will give us the resources to help even more people. This relationship will allow us to invest in new manufacturing technologies that will lower our costs as we continually improve our world-class quality. Working closely with our dealer network, we'll expand our marketing to reach and serve more customers. And we plan to bolster our team with more top-notch people to sustain our growth long term."

T.J. McGill, Evergreen Pacific's co-founder and managing partner, said of the new relationship, "Getting behind the wheel is something that most Americans never think twice about, but for anyone in a wheelchair, it's a significant barrier to mobility and the freedom that comes with it. VMI is well positioned to grow given its strong reputation, dealer network and partners. We look forward to helping VMI serve a large and growing population segment with specially equipped vans that meet their specific needs."

VMI specializes in wheelchair-accessible automotive conversions and calls the market for such cars, minivans and full-size vans "large, growing and still mostly untapped." In its news announcement, the manufacturer said it estimates that 3 to 4 million Americans live with wheelchairs, "yet less than four percent of them own a wheelchair van or a significantly converted vehicle. The market is projected to grow significantly over the next five or six years, primarily driven by meeting the needs of an aging Baby Boomer generation, those suffering from obesity-related illnesses and disabled military veterans."

VMI added that the number of disabled American veterans has climbed 45 percent since 2000.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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