Kelso & Company Acquires C.L. Smith

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kelso & Company (“Kelso”) and affiliated funds have acquired a majority interest in C.L. Smith Company (“C.L. Smith”), a leading distributor of rigid packaging solutions. C.L. Smith will be combined with Kelso’s existing investment in Inmark, a distributor of rigid container and life sciences packaging products.   Financial terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1975, C.L. Smith is a one-stop shop for rigid packaging distribution, manufacturing, custom design, and hazardous material certification, serving a diverse range of customers and end markets. In addition to the company’s rigid packaging design, warehousing, and distribution capabilities, C.L. Smith operates Lyons Blow Molding, an extrusion blow molding facility that offers its customers greater flexibility with shorter run lengths, rapid response times, and full customization options. C.L. Smith serves as the exclusive distributor of products manufactured by Lyons Blow Molding, contributing to the company’s impressive growth. The company’s HAZPlus® division provides a single source purchasing experience for its customers’ full range of hazardous materials storage and packaging needs, including product certification and testing.

Kelso acquired its interest in C.L. Smith from Nancy Smith who, along with C.L. Smith management, will be investing significant proceeds in connection with the transaction. “C.L. Smith has a long and rich history of providing best-in-class customer service,” said Nancy Smith. “We are excited to partner with Kelso who shares in our passion for customer care, our people, and our culture.  These customer-centric values are the root of C.L. Smith’s success and serve as our roadmap for future growth.”

C.L. Smith CEO Sarah Macdonald commented, “C.L. Smith’s significant growth has been made possible by a team of passionate and highly skilled leaders and employees. We are pleased to welcome an experienced investment partner who shares our vision for the expansion of the company into a national packaging provider.  Together we will strengthen our customer-focused value proposition and best-in-class service offering.”

“At Kelso, we constantly seek opportunities to partner with experienced operators with successful track records. Sarah Macdonald and the C.L. Smith management team have generated impressive historical performance while further strengthening the company’s differentiated market position. We look forward to working together to continue C.L. Smith’s exceptional growth trajectory,” said Sandy Osborne, Kelso Investment Partner.

“We are extremely excited about this transformational combination of C.L. Smith and Inmark. The combined company will offer a more robust product offering and expanded geographic footprint to service the critical needs of customers. We are committed to continuing to invest in the platform through a combination of organic and inorganic growth initiatives,” added Alec Hufnagel, Kelso Investment Partner.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP served as legal advisor to Kelso.

P&M Corporate Finance, LLC (PMCF) served as financial advisor and Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. served as legal advisor to C.L. Smith.

C.L. Smith

C.L. Smith is a premier rigid packaging provider with over 45 years of industry experience. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, C.L. Smith provides full stocking distribution, custom packaging design and manufacturing, and turnkey hazardous material shipping solutions. Exceptional customer care and service are core to C.L. Smith’s operational philosophy and corporate culture. For more information, please visit

About Inmark

For over 45 years, Inmark has been a trusted source for rigid container, temperature-controlled, specimen transport, used medical device, and dangerous goods packaging. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA with locations in Europe, Asia, and North America, Inmark has become a respected leader in developing packaging solutions for businesses globally. For more information, please visit

About Kelso

Kelso is one of the oldest and most established firms specializing in private equity investing. Since 1980, Kelso has invested over $15 billion of equity capital in 132 transactions. Kelso was founded by the inventor of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and, as a result, the principles of partnership and alignment of interest serve as the foundation of the firm’s investment philosophy. Kelso benefits from a successful investment track record, deep sector expertise, a long-tenured and stable investing team, and a reputation as a preferred partner to management teams and corporate partners. Kelso has significant experience investing in and supporting high-growth distribution and packaging platforms. The firm is based in New York, NY. For more information, please visit