Our Mission is to be a top tier operationally focused firm, deliver superior returns to our investors, and create long-term sustained value at our firm.

Our Strategy is to attempt to acquire good businesses with significant opportunity for enhancement at attractive prices and drive strategic and operational enhancement through intensive, hands-on involvement in partnership with management.

Our History

The Sterling Group was founded in 1982 to acquire and improve businesses through strategic and operational initiatives. Since our founding, Sterling has closed 43 platform acquisitions as well as numerous add-on acquisitions, for a total of over $10 billion in transaction value.

1982 – The Sterling Group was founded in 1982 by Frank Hevrdejs and the late Gordon Cain with the goal of acquiring and improving businesses through strategic and operational initiatives.


1983 to 2000 – During this time, Sterling made 25 investments while operating without a dedicated fund. With almost $6.0 billion in transaction value, Sterling established a strong track record.


  • Balco International (1983) Manufacturer of specialty architectural products
  • Vista Chemical (1984) Producer of commodity and specialty petrochemicals, including surfactants and PVC resins
  • Pawnee Industries (1984) Manufacturer of custom-extruded plastic sheet materials
  • Steffen Dairy (1985) Processor of dairy foods
  • Hawkeye Chemical (1985) Producer of nitrogen fertilizer and other related products
  • A-1 Rental Car (1985) Rental car franchise
  • Knox Lumber (1986) Distributor and retailer of lumber, hardware, and related building materials
  • Airtron (1986) Residential and light industrial heating and air-conditioning contractor
  • Sirena (1987) Manufacturer and distributor of branded swimwear and lightweight leisurewear
  • Cain Chemical (1987) Producer of ethylene and ethylene derivatives
  • Kranco (1988) Manufacturer of overhead cranes
  • INDSPEC Chemical (1988) Producer of resorcinol, a chemical used in the production of automotive tires, and other industrial chemicals
  • Fiber Industries (1988) Manufacturer and marketer of polyester textile fiber products and bottle resins
  • CJC (1988) Manufacturer and marketer of high-school rings and other personalized jewelry
  • Craftworld International (1989) Wholesale distributor of craft supplies
  • Arcadian Chemical (1989/1984) Producer of nitrogen and phosphate agricultural fertilizers and industrial chemical products
  • Royster-Clark (1992) Marketer of fertilizer materials, micronutrients, animal feeds, and other farm supplies to farmers and related entities
  • Purina Mills (1993) Manufacturer and marketer of animal nutrition products for cattle, hogs, horses, and zoo animals
  • Mail-Well (1994) Manufacturer of specialized conventional envelopes and related packaging products
  • Texas Petrochemical (1996) Producer of petrochemicals including butadiene, butene-1, and MTBE
  • Sterling Diagnostic Imaging (1996) Global supplier of products and services for the capture, communication, display, and archiving of diagnostic images
  • Sterling Chemicals (1996/1986) Producer of commodity petrochemicals and paper chemicals
  • AXIA (1998) Manufacturer and distributor of niche construction tools, formed wire products, and industrial equipment

2001 - Sterling raised its first fund with total commitments of $120 million. Sterling also completed the acquisition of Exopack, the first investment in Fund I.


2003 - Sterling completed the acquisition of North American Energy Partners and Hydrochem Industrial Services in Fund I.

2004 - Sterling completed the acquisition of Propex in Fund I.


2005 – Sterling raised its second institutional fund in 2005 with commitments totaling $470 million. Sterling also completed the acquisition of Panolam, the first portfolio company in Fund II.


2006 – Sterling completed four acquisitions in Fund II:

CST Industries
Roofing Supply Group
BTEC Turbines
Hudson Products

2007 – Sterling completed the acquisition of Universal Fiber Systems in Fund II.


2009 – Sterling completed the acquisition of Velcon Filters in Fund II.


2010 – Sterling closed its third institutional fund with $820 million in commitments in just under 10 months.

Sterling completed the last two acquisitions in Fund II, B&G Crane Service and Express, as well as the first acquisition in Fund III, Saxco. All three companies were bought from family owners.


2011 - Sterling completed two corporate carve-outs in Fund III, Stackpole and Liqui-Box. Liqui-Box was the fourth business acquired from DuPont during Sterling’s history.

Dow Jones Private Equity News named The Sterling Group to the list of the Top 20 best private equity performers globally for the second year in a row.

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  • 1. Waterland
  • 2. Friedman Fleischer & Lowe
  • 3. Platinum Equity
  • 4. Hellman & Friedman
  • 5. TPG
  • 6. Astorg
  • 7. PAI Partners
  • 8. Rhone Capital
  • 9. Nordic Capital
  • 10. Onex Corporation
  • 11. The Sterling Group
  • 12. Towerbrook Capital Partners
  • 13. GTCR Golder Rauner
  • 14. Axa Private Equity
  • 15. Gilde Buy Out Partners
  • 16. BC Partners
  • 17. Barclays Private Equity
  • 18. Bain Capital
  • 19. The Riverside Company
  • 20. Apollo Management

2012 – Sterling completed the acquisition of Dexter Axle in Fund III. This was the second carve-out from Tomkins in 18 months.


2013 – Sterling completed the simultaneous acquisitions of ROM Corporation and Specialty Manufacturing, Inc. in Fund III. The combined businesses were renamed Safe Fleet.


2014 – In Preqin’s Global Private Equity Report, The Sterling Group tied for 7th across 167 private equity firms for consistency of top quartile performance across 3 funds or more.

Disclaimer: The Sterling Group, L.P. has not sought to independently verify information obtained from the sources used by Preqin to compile their rankings. In addition, the methodology used by Preqin is subject to inherent limitations due to the confidential nature of the private equity industry, different vintage years, strategies or investment objectives of private equity firms and different performance measures used by such firms. There may be certain other limitations in the comparison of The Sterling Group, L.P. with other private equity firms in the ranking, with respect to its performance that it may not be aware of. The Sterling Group, L.P. makes no representations or warranties as to accuracy, completeness or reliability of information contained in Preqin’s ranking.