Salem’s Hunt Valve Acquired by Fairbanks Morse Defense

SALEM, Ohio – Hunt Valve has been acquired by Fairbanks Morse Defense, marking the second time in six years that the Salem company has changed hands.

Hunt Valve engineers, manufactures and services valves for the defense, industrial and energy industries. Its products are meant for use in “severe duty” environments, such as on submarines and aircraft carriers. The company has sites in Salem and Montreal, Canada.

“We look at companies that have a fantastic product portfolio, a reputation and an aptitude for service, in particular in the defense industry. For Hunt Valve, greater than 90% of their business goes to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard,” said Fairbanks Morse Defense CEO George Whittier in an interview with The Business Journal on Monday. “For us, that’s a perfect fit for where we want to go and how we want to serve our customer base. It’s a wonderful addition to the Fairbanks Morse Defense family.”

The company, founded in 1919, was most recently owned by Chicago-based May River Capital, which bought Hunt Valve in November 2015. Also part of the deal were Hunt’s subsidiaries: Hunt Valve Actuator Division, MB Valve and Pima Valve.

Fairbanks Morse Defense is a portfolio company whose holdings include Fairbanks Morse Engine, Fairbanks Morse Service, Breco International and Ward Leonard. 

With all its portfolio companies, Whittier said, the focus is on growth and expansion. While there’s no “concrete plans” for what that could look like in Salem, it’s certainly in the cards, he said.

“Our core focus is on the growth side, so our plan has been to grow and expand each company that we have. … There’s so much opportunity in the market, we think, to win new business,” Whitter said. “I think we’ll need to add additional capacity and employment at both locations, but we don’t have a timeline on it just yet. We will once we start getting the business in.”

Between its two sites, Hunt Valve employs roughly 100, a number that the Fairbanks Morse Defense CEO expects to increase. For the time being, though, there are no changes planned in the size of the workforce or among leadership, save for “some shifting of responsibilities.”

Going forward, the company’s focus will be virtually all on the defense industry. Existing customers in the industrial and energy sectors will be taken care of, Whittier emphasized, but with Fairbanks Morse Defense’s expertise in the defense industry, that’s where leaders see the greatest potential for growth.

“We have a bigger reach and we think we can expand it to a broader range of customers than what Hunt Valve was able to accomplish on their own,” Whittier said. “When we look at the core future growth of the company, it’s going to be in the defense space. We’re focusing on where we’re strongest, not trying to develop into ancillary markets.”

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