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Melville-based MSC acquires Ohio unit

Melville-based MSC Industrial Direct Co., one of Long Island's largest companies, said Friday it has agreed to acquire a distribution unit of a Connecticut company for $550 million.

MSC said the acquisition would nearly double its sales staff and help push it toward its goal of $4 billion in sales by 2016. MSC, Long Island's seventh-largest company by revenue, first hit $2 billion in revenue in its fiscal year 2011.

The company, which distributes industrial tools and supplies, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Barnes Distribution North America, which is based in Cleveland. It is a unit of Bristol, Conn.-based Barnes Group Inc. MSC said it would pay for the purchase with cash and loans.

"This transaction, along with our expected long-term organic growth, will help us achieve our goal of $4 billion in revenue by 2016," said chief executive Erik Gershwind.

MSC also plans to break ground this spring on a previously announced 400,000-square-foot distribution center in Columbus, Ohio. It will employ 300 full-time workers by the end of 2017.

The Barnes unit distributes what MSC executives call low-cost, high-margin products such as fuses and fittings and specializes in inventory-cost management. The division has about 31,000 customers in sectors that include government and manufacturing. Its estimated 1,400 employees include more than 800 sales people. The division had about $300 million in sales in 2012.

"We are getting a well-run, high-margin business," said Jeff Kaczka, MSC's chief financial officer.

MSC has nearly 5,000 employees, including 664 on Long Island. MSC stock closed at $85.24 a share, up $2.15 Friday in New York Stock Exchange trading, near its 52-week high of $86.81.

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