Turtle & Hughes Buys Mag-Trol Long Beach to Focus on Automation Retrofits of Ports

May 25, 2012
Turtle & Hughes Inc., Linden, N.J., has acquired industrial automation specialist Mag-Trol Long Beach Inc., Long Beach, Calif

Turtle & Hughes Inc., Linden, N.J., has acquired industrial automation specialist Mag-Trol Long Beach Inc., Long Beach, Calif. Burk Burkhart, HT Capital Inc., New York, who represented Mag-Trol in the acquisition, says the deal gets Turtle & Hughes into the California market and adds to a niche of providing electrical products for seaport expansion it had previously developed through its Houston location.

In business since 1981, Mag-Trol Long Beach is a specialist in harbor applications, providing motion control, programmable logic controllers (PLC’s), sensing and other industrial automation technologies along with renewal parts and value-added services. Turtle & Hughes has focused on industrial automation through its Automation Group for many years and is a Rockwell Automation distributor.

The Long Beach port is one of the busiest container ports in the world and according to a 2010 article in the Journal of Commerce is undergoing $3 billion expansion so it can compete with the expansion of the Panama Canal, which when complete in 2014 will allow larger container ships to travel directly to other ports on the East Coast without having to unload containers in California for cross-country shipping. A Los Angeles Times article said the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together handle about 40% of the nation’s imported Asian goods and that the Panama Canal expansion could put a serious dent in California’s shipping industry if the state’s ports can’t handle the larger container ships.

Burkhart, who recently worked on Sonepar’s acquisition of Independent Electrical Supply, San Carlos, Calif., said Turtle & Hughes’ acquisition of Mag-Trol and Rexel’s purchase of Platt Electric Supply and the reported valuation of that deal (roughly a 1-to-1 ratio when comparing what Rexel announced it paid for the acquisition and Platt’s annual sales) shows the electrical wholesaling industry is again experiencing a “feeding frenzy” acquisition climate similar to 2005-2007, when his firm represented Crawford Electric Supply, Dallas, and many others independent distributors in acquisitions.

“All of the nationals, some large regionals, and also some large diversified industrial supply companies, are actively seeking electrical/automation acquisitions,” Burkhart told Electrical Marketing. “The industry is clearly in a seller’s market again, and the valuations we are hearing are very attractive to our clients.”