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Chicago private equity firm buys controlling interest in LI company

Executives Rody Mehdizadeh, left, and Shervin Zade are

Executives Rody Mehdizadeh, left, and Shervin Zade are part of the new ownership group at U.S. Nonwovens in Brentwood. Credit: Ed Betz

A manufacturer of consumer products with about 1,000 employees in Suffolk County has been purchased by private equity investors from Chicago, officials said Thursday.

A controlling interest in U.S. Nonwovens Corp. has been acquired by the investment firm Wind Point Partners for an undisclosed amount.

Wind Point will own a majority stake, and the founders of U.S. Nonwovens, the Mehdizadeh family, will have a minority stake.

U.S. Nonwovens was family owned. It makes products for consumer goods giants such as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever and for Walmart and other retailing chains. These include baby wipes, acne and hemorrhoid treatments, cosmetics, detergents, sponges and adult incontinence remedies.

U.S. Nonwovens, with its headquarters in Brentwood, has nine factories, sales offices and distribution centers around the globe. Besides Suffolk, the company has major operations in Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Mexico, where a total of 600 people work.

The county’s Industrial Development Agency ratified the sale of U.S. Nonwovens on Thursday. The IDA's approval was necessary because in 2013 the agency provided nearly $2 million in tax breaks over 12 to 15 years to keep the business from leaving.

Since then, U.S. Nonwovens has spent $14.7 million to add a facility in Commack and has exceeded its job commitment by several hundred positions, according to IDA records. Employees earn $33,130, on average, per year.

U.S. Nonwovens’ CEO Shervin Zade and his brother, COO Rody Mehdizadeh, are part of the new ownership group, according to a letter from Wind Point managing director David M. Stott.

The 35-year-old Wind Point has purchased other consumer products manufacturers and potentially could help U.S. Nonwovens expand its portfolio of brand name products, which now includes Ajax Laundry, Fab, Dynamo, Final Touch and Bloom Baby.

Wind Point also could help U.S. Nonwovens to purchase other businesses, which is expected to be a focus for Zade and Mehdizadeh going forward.

“We have a proven track record of partnering with companies for growth,” Stott said in the letter. “We fully intend to uphold the reputation and culture of the company while investing in its future growth.”

He didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Zade and Mehdizadeh are expected to remain with U.S. Nonwovens for at least seven years, officials said Thursday.

IDA executive director Anthony J. Catapano said Thursday the Mehdizadeh family “will have a material interest or ownership in the new entity.” He noted U.S. Nonwovens “has exceeded what they promised to us” in terms of hiring and capital investment.

IDA board member Josh Slaughter asked if Wind Point has committed to keeping the company on Long Island.

Catapano said, “At this point, they have indicated they expect to continue. But there is always a concern with private equity firms that they [local businesses] could leave.”

A U.S. Nonwovens spokesperson said Thursday, "We are excited for our future growth and to continue to be on Long Island."

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