Celeste Industries Corporation (Easton, MD) is a provider of transportation chemicals, including the well-known “blue juice” used on aircraft, as well as other aviation cleaners, degreasers, and soaps. Celeste was the last remaining investment in an early portfolio of private equity group, Brockway Moran & Partners.
Brockway Moran & Partners engaged Grace Matthews to explore a sale of the Company to strategic buyers. Celeste Industries had undergone a number of recent transformations. The Company was originally in the business of providing transportation amenities. Post September 11, the Company was forced to re-think its business model and focus specifically on chemicals.
While the chemical business was profitable and growing, finding a buyer was challenging. When the process was first begun in 2007, many potential buyers were still afraid of investing in the airline industry. At the same time, oil prices drove up air fuel prices, decreasing passenger traffic.
Grace Matthews counseled Brockway Moran to remove the Company from the market, continue to exit the remaining amenities part of the business and focus on improving performance while we waited for a recovery in the airline industry.
By 2010, a general economic recovery was underway and the airline industry was rebounding nicely from its depression. A new process begun during this time, found a nice group of interested buyers, both strategic and private equity. The auction process yielded a price above the sellers expectations despite the industry downturn a few years earlier.