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High-temp product maker Unifrax prepares for ownership change

Unifrax Corp. is changing owners.

Clearlake Capital Group, a private investment firm based in California, has a signed an agreement to acquire the Town of Tonawanda-based manufacturer from American Securities Capital Partners. Terms were not disclosed.

Unifrax has poured $67 million in investment into two Tonawanda plants over the past year. The company also has operations in Sanborn.  Unifrax has a total of 2,300 employees at its 31 manufacturing plants, including 453 in the Buffalo Niagara region.

Unifrax makes ceramic fiber insulation products used in high-temperature industrial, automotive and fire protection applications. Its two Tonawanda plants have more than 300 employees, and its two recent projects received more than $1.9 million in incentives from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and $1.3 million in incentives and grants from National Grid.

John Dandolph, Unifrax's president and CEO, said Clearlake "shares our strategic vision to drive growth while accelerating our pace of technological innovation to make the world greener, cleaner and safer."

Unifrax expanded locally with this new facility in the Town of Tonawanda. (Matt Glynn/Buffalo News)

"Clearlake is very excited to back John Dandolph and the company's existing management team by reinvesting in the business for the long term and focusing on new growth initiatives, as well as evaluating potential acquisitions to continue the company's expansion in the U.S. and internationally," said Jose Feliciano, co-founder and managing partner of Clearlake. Clearlake has managed more than $8 billion of institutional capital since its inception in 2006.

Unifrax said its current management team "will continue to operate the business and will remain investors in the company."

New York City-based American Securities has owned Unifrax at two different times, first acquiring Unifrax in 2003. In 2006, American Securities sold the company to AEA Investors LLC, before reacquiring Unifrax in 2011.

"During our 15-year partnership, (Dandolph) and the talented Unifrax management team have driven strong organic growth and executed key strategic and value-enhancing acquisitions, leading to this positive outcome," said Marc Saiontz, a managing director of American Securities.

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