High Road Capital Partners has sold Milwaukee Gear Company for $80 million, marking the first exit for the firm’s debut fund, High Road Capital Partners Fund I, LP. The sale generated a 2.6 times gross cash-on-cash return and a 31.6% gross IRR for High Road. The firm’s July 2008 investment in Milwaukee Gear was also its first acquisition.

Milwaukee, WI-based Milwaukee Gear manufactures custom precision gears and drives used in a variety of industrial applications. The company was acquired by Regal Beloit Corporation.

“In the three and a half years High Road owned the company, we grew its revenues by 30% and EBITDA by 45%,” said Bob Fitzsimmons, High Road’s managing partner. “Our investment strategy is to buy niche leaders and work to make them bigger and qualitatively better. We’re proud we accomplished that with Milwaukee Gear, while steering them through the economic downturn and positioning them for long-term growth, working in partnership with their outstanding management team.”

Rick Fullington, president and CEO of Milwaukee Gear, said, “With High Road’s support we were able to make significant investments in lean manufacturing initiatives, information technology, and production capacity, which enabled us to enhance our productivity and keep up with strong business demand when the economy improved.”

Partners Bill Connell and Bill Hobbs were significantly involved in High Road Capital Partners’ deal efforts. Robert W. Baird & Co. advised Milwaukee Gear in the transaction. Thompson Hine provided legal counsel. Charter Oak Equity served as High Road’s equity partner in the Milwaukee Gear acquisition.

High Road Capital Partners has completed 15 transactions – eight platform investments and seven add-on acquisitions – for its debut fund, High Road Capital Partners Fund I, LP.

High Road Capital Partners is a private equity firm focused on smaller middle-market transactions. High Road was formed in 2007 and currently manages over $150 million of committed capital.