PhillyDeals: Radnor investment firm buys Northeast Ship Repair

A mounted gun will be salvaged from the USS Hawes at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
A mounted gun will be salvaged from the USS Hawes at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 05, 2013

Northeast Ship Repair, the Boston-based firm that has been stripping aged Navy guided-missile frigates at the old Philadelphia Navy Yard under an $8.5 million government contract, has been sold for about $18.5 million to a Radnor investment firm and its partners.

"It's a good investment: There are maybe five dry docks on the East Coast that can handle ships 750 feet or bigger, and they're not building any new" installations, said Andrew Panzo, general partner at NewSpring Capital in Radnor.

Northeast Ship Repair is the owner of Philadelphia Ship Repair, which is doing the salvaging work here, and another unit called Boston Ship Repair.

NewSpring bought 42 percent of Northeast Ship Repair, which has leased Dry Dock No. 2 at the Philadelphia yard, and a second dock in Boston from J.H. Lehman & Co., the New York investment firm headed by John Lehman, a Philadelphia native who served as secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration.

Plexus Capital, of Raleigh, N.C., bought another 42 percent. Northeast president Ed Snyder and other managers and private investors bought the rest.

Under the federal Jones Act, Navy vessels have to be repaired and repainted regularly at U.S. facilities, Panzo said. Northeast Ship Repair is removing engines, propellers, and other key equipment from aging frigates and other decommissioned ships, after which they will be scrapped. The Navy says it hopes to save as much as $100 million by using the old parts on other frigates, including some it plans to sell to friendly European, Asian, and Latin American navies.

The ship repair company employs about 100 union tradesmen from several locals at its Philadelphia dock, one of five at the Navy Yard site. The frigates are expected to keep the dock busy for the next year. The Navy stores everything from an aircraft carrier to transport ships at the Reserve Basin next door, and is slowly salvaging, selling, or scrapping them and moving in new ships as they become obsolete.

NewSpring backs a mix of software, business services, and manufacturing firms.

"We believe this is a very good investment for our mezzanine [midlevel] fund," Panzo added. "We have a captive audience in the U.S. government. We plan on working with management to build out the commercial side further. This is not a business where there will be a ton of growth. You can only bring one ship into a dry dock at a time."

Evolution

Evolve IP, a Wayne-based company that hosts cloud computing (off-site servers), unified communications services (Internet, phone, data), and call-and-contact centers for business clients, says it has bought a Cleveland-based cloud-computing firm, Paragrid, and its two data centers, adding a Midwest base to its existing East Coast and Las Vegas locations.

Evolve IP won't say what it's paying Paragrid's owners, who include chief executive Brian Berg, who will join Evolve IP. Guy Fardone, founding partner of Evolve IP, said the deal would boost his workforce to 120 from nearly 100. "We're growing so rapidly, we add a few every other month," he added. "We're retaining the Paragrid team and adding it to our Midwest region," which includes a Chicago office.

Fardone, chairman Tom Gravina, and their partners started Evolve IP in 2007 after selling their previous company, Atx Communications. They sell their current menu of services through 200 "agent-partners" and their own direct sales force, targeting midsize companies and competing with Amazon and other big cloud-server providers as well as specialized mid-market rivals like Center City-based Alteva.


PhillyDeals: >Inquirer.com

For more on the ship disassembly being done at the old Philadelphia Navy Yard, go to www.inquirer.com/shiprepair


JoeD@phillynews.com

215-854-5194 @PhillyJoeD

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