RYE, N.Y. and BILLERICA, Mass.,—May 20, 2021 – SFW Capital Partners, LP (“SFW”) today announced that it has completed a majority recapitalization of Pion Inc. (“Pion”), a leading provider of analytical instrumentation for formulation development and quality control in the life sciences industry. Mike and Sharon Kelly, who have owned and operated Pion for the last decade, are reinvesting in the transaction to retain an interest in the company.
Founded in 1996, Pion is best known for providing instrumentation, software, reagents, and services to enable pharmaceutical scientists to develop medications that are safe and effective. Pion’s unique fiber-optic and PhysChem analysis technology play a critical role in the screening, development, production and quality control of all types of biopharmaceutical drugs, including extended-release medications, injectables, generic pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies rely on Pion’s solutions. Pion serves a multi-billion-dollar global market for tools and analytical instrumentation used in pharmaceutical formulation development and quality control processes.
“Pion’s high value products, proprietary technology, deep customer relationships, and significant opportunities for growth make it an obvious fit with SFW’s investment philosophy,” said Ahmad Sheikh, Partner at SFW. “We are pleased to partner with Mike, Sharon and the Pion management team and look forward to building on the solid foundation that they have created.”
“Pion’s unique offering and strong management team have led to consistent profitability and a growth rate more than double that of the market over the past five years,” Sheikh added. “We believe Pion’s growth can be further accelerated through developing new products, expanding its international presence, enhancing its sales and marketing capabilities, building out the management team, and pursuing strategic acquisitions.”
“Having begun our story with Pion nearly a decade ago, Sharon and I were looking for a specialized investment partner that would help realize Pion’s potential and allow us to take a step back from our day-to-day management of the company,” said Mike Kelly. “SFW immediately differentiated themselves from other potential investors through their long history of success with companies like ours and their growth-oriented investment strategy. We have every confidence that Pion will accelerate its growth rate, expand its client base, and bring new solutions to market by taking formulation development science forward in the coming years.”
In a planned transition, Mike Kelly will move from CEO to Chairman of the Board while Brian Dutko will become CEO of Pion. Dutko has spent his entire career in the life sciences tools and analytical instrumentation marketplace, and for 23 years was a member of Malvern Instruments’ senior leadership team as President of Malvern, Inc. During his time at Malvern, Dutko played an integral part in building Malvern into one of the world's leading materials and biophysical characterization companies focused on the life sciences industry with consistent double digit annual revenue growth.
“I am excited to become Pion’s new CEO, partner with Mike and Sharon Kelly and SFW, and carry on the company’s legacy of excellence and culture of outperformance,” said Dutko. “The company’s proprietary technology and unrivalled expertise in formulation development make it an excellent starting point to build a more substantial platform. As an example, Pion’s Scissor product line represents its entry into the large molecule space, where there is strong demand for analytical solutions. We expect to bring several new products to market over the next several years to serve our customers.”
SFW has led investments in several leading family and founder-owned businesses in the Industrial and Healthcare Technology sectors, including Granite River Labs earlier this month, as well as Caron Products & Services, Essen Bioscience, Micromeritics and Filtec. In each of these investments, the combination of SFW’s industry expertise, investment track record, growth-oriented philosophy, and partnership approach helped determine the firm’s selection by the founders or family as an investment partner.
About SFW Capital Partners, LP
SFW Capital Partners is a specialized private equity firm that invests in leading Information, Software, Industrial and Healthcare Technology companies. These companies, which include providers of instrumentation, laboratory products, software/information and related solutions, provide a high return on investment to their customers and can serve a wide variety of end-markets. Our principals’ 25+ years of investing in and experience with relevant business models, technologies, competitive dynamics and service requirements gives us confidence in our ability to support management teams in growing their companies and building value. For more information, visit www.sfwcap.com.
About Pion Inc.
Founded in the United States in 1996 but tracing its life sciences research roots to 1989, Billerica, Mass.-based Pion is a science-based company providing innovative technology, solutions, support and scientific expertise to the drug development industry. Through a variety of novel testing instruments and techniques, the company empowers the pharmaceutical research community to use trusted data for the development of new and unique products that make a difference to people’s lives. The company acquired the technology that would become its leading Rainbow in situ fiber-optics UV measurement instrument through the acquisition of Delphian Technology in 2002 and was bought by Mike and Sharon Kelly in 2011. For more information, visit www.pion-inc.com.