IPS acquired by Florida firm, but the love stays here

Forward thinking: Hauppauge product-design specialist Intelligent Product Solutions has been acquired by a Florida firm, but neither it nor CEO Mitch Maiman is going anywhere.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

One of Long Island’s brightest innovators has been acquired by a Florida-based manufacturer with ties to Switzerland, the United Kingdom and eastern Asia.

But Intelligent Product Solutions isn’t leaving Long Island, promises Chief Executive Mitch Maiman – and in fact, the merger could prove a boon for the Island economy.

Now operating under the banner of global designer/distributor Forward Industries, the product-design specialist is “absolutely” maintaining operations at its Hauppauge headquarters and Minneapolis production facility, Maiman told Innovate LI, with the CEO and Chief Operating Officer Paul Severino remaining in place.

Other terms of the acquisition, which closed after trading hours Thursday, were not disclosed, though Forward Industries noted “material consideration comprising of cash, equity and contingent earnouts.”

Maiman was dutifully tightlipped about the considerations, but gushed about IPS’s whirlwind love affair with its new partner.

Noting the commercial courtship was “almost like dating,” the CEO said his company was introduced to Forward Industries by a mutual friend – an act of corporate kismet that would ultimately fulfill each company’s deepest M&A desires.

“IPS had been approached numerous times over the past three years by companies with an interest in us,” Maiman said. “In another universe, Forward was looking for a partner that looked like us.

“An IPS client, like a good friend, arranged a blind date,” he added. “We met and sparks flew.”

It was actually love at first sight, according to Maiman, who noted he and Severino “walked out of our first meeting with the Forward folks saying ‘these are the people we want to work with, we have to make this happen.’”

They didn’t know at the time that the Forward Industries Board of Directors was equally smitten.

But Forward’s feelings would come clear when the Nasdaq-listed West Palm Beach firm – a circa-1962 product protection and portability specialist with deep international ties and a heavy presence in China, including an 800,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Dongguann – revealed that of two dozen potential acquisitions it thoroughly evaluated, it was sweetest on IPS.

“There was an almost instant fit,” Maiman said.

That affection was echoed by Forward Industries CEO Terry Wise, who said Thursday he was “delighted and excited” by the acquisition of IPS.

The Hauppauge maker is “an excellent strategic fit” for his international innovator, according to Wise, who specifically noted the IPS-designed, Internet of Things-enabled “smart” pill bottle marketed by AdhereTech as the kind of success story that sets Forward Industries’ heart aflutter.

Terry Wise: Love story.

“[IPS’s] expertise and strong track record in designing connected/IoT products … will significantly strengthen and contribute to Forward Industries,” Wise said in a statement. “As a group, we are now able to offer a complete design, development, manufacturing and distribution service.

“We face exciting times ahead,” Wise added.

When Forward Industries officially proposed, Maiman and Severino accepted – and as a dowry of sorts received new employment contracts, according to Maiman, who noted the newlyweds immediately started thinking about growing the family.

“We’re staying because we want to be on the journey,” he said. “We’re going to help make Forward into a much bigger entity than it is today.”

That growth won’t only benefit the Florida-based mothership or its international clientele, according to Maiman, who stressed the marriage’s “really good potential for Long Island.”

“Being part of Forward, we’re going to grow IPS,” the CEO said. “And as we grow our company, we have the potential hire more people and bring a lot more staff on board.”

The Hauppauge facility has “a little extra capacity” and could accommodate some personnel and operational expansions, Maiman noted, though “no one knows just how big we might get.”

Whatever growth is going to occur, expect it to start occurring quickly. While they do not hold Forward Industries titles or board seats (yet), both Maiman and Severino will be “participating in things that will help [Forward Industries] grow,” according to Maiman, and they’re thrilled to immediately offer existing customers new services and connections leveraging Forward’s impressive capabilities.

Of course, they’re also crushing a little on all those new client referrals expected from their globally renowned Florida parent.

“I’m optimistic that with the relationships we already have, plus the ones we get out of the Forward engagement, we’re going to be able to drive a lot more customers and clients to IPS,” Maiman said. “And our business is our people, so if we drive business and need more people, that’s good for Long Island.”


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