Mergers and Acquisitions

Chicago Firm Buys Southern Towing

CC Industries Inc. (CCI) announced May 30 that it had acquired Z-drive pioneer Southern Towing Company (STC) from Trive Capital and McCombs Partners.

The new owners said that STC will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity. Ed Grimm, STC president and CEO, will continue in his current roles along with his entire management team. Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

Founded in 1958, Memphis, Tenn.-based STC is one of the largest operators of towboats and barges along the inland waterways, operating a fleet of some 25 towboats and 75 tank barges that transport liquid products.

STC was led for many years by Bill Stegbauer, who will probably always be best known on the inland waterways as a leading advocate for the benefits of Z-drive propulsion for towboats. Stegbauer’s father, Frank, was an executive vice president of STC under founder Baxter Southern, then president and owner.

The first man to outfit a towboat with Z-drive technology was Eddie Conrad, who introduced the Z-drive powered mv. Miss Nari in 1987. But having become convinced of its virtues, Stegbauer oversaw the development, design and construction of four Z-drive boats for Southern Towing.

Stegbauer sold the company to Trive Capital in 2012 before retiring two years later.  His vision continues to inspire the industry he served as other companies have included Z-drives in recent boat builds.

Chicago-based CCI operates within Henry Crown & Company as the holding company for the Crown family’s privately held companies. CCI focuses on acquisitions of companies with operations in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and Asia. CCI’s portfolio of operating companies includes Gillig, Great Dane Trailers, J.L. Clark, Miracapo Pizza Company, Provisur Technologies, Riverside Rail, Selig and Trail King Industries.

Henry Crown (born Henry Krinsky), who died in 1990, founded Material Services Corporation and was himself a veteran owner of barge-related companies. Among the many companies he was involved with, Crown was a director of Lemont Shipbuilding and Repair Corporation and SCNO Barge Lines Inc.

“STC is a remarkable business with a long history of excellence,” said Bill Crown, president and CEO of CCI. “We are delighted to add Southern Towing to the CC Industries family of operating companies.”

“The management team and employees have grown an exceptional business and fostered a culture of safety and outstanding customer service,” Crown said. “We are excited about STC and dedicated to providing the resources to expand the business and enhance STC’s ability to serve its customers.”

Grimm said, “We are thrilled with our new owners. CCI is an ideal partner to support us for the next phase of STC’s growth. With CCI’s operational and financial expertise, we will continue to focus on STC’s four pillars: success through commitment, safely transporting cargo, service to customers and supporting the crew.”