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Kinderhook Partners with Auto-Wares and Acquires Lafayette Warehouse

NEW YORK, March 8, 2023-- Kinderhook Industries, LLC ("Kinderhook") announced today the recapitalization of AWI Holdings, LLC ("Auto-Wares" or "AWI") in partnership with management. Auto-Wares is a leading distributor of aftermarket automotive parts to independent service centers, independent parts stores, and direct to consumer through its network of 200+ company-owned stores. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Subsequent to the recapitalization, Auto-Wares acquired Lafayette Warehouse, Inc. ("Lafayette"). Lafayette is a warehouse distributor of OEM and aftermarket automotive parts in North Central Indiana. Lafayette is the 83rd acquisition completed by Auto-Wares since its founding and Kinderhook's 202nd automotive / light manufacturing-related transaction. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Auto-Wares is a Grand Rapids, Michigan based warehouse distributor of aftermarket automotive parts to installers, parts stores, and consumers through its company-owned stores. Founded in 1976 by Fred Bunting, Auto-Wares has grown into one of the largest automotive parts distributors in the United States. AWI leverages its extensive inventory and deep product knowledge to serve its customers. In addition to its Grand Rapids headquarters and distribution center, Auto-Wares serves its customers through a dense regional network of strategically located distribution centers and company-owned stores throughout the Midwest.

Todd Leimenstoll, CEO of Auto-Wares, said, "Kinderhook is the perfect partner to help Auto-Wares accelerate growth during this exciting new chapter. Auto-Wares is confident that Kinderhook's expertise, resources, and vision for future growth will allow our business to expand our operations and build upon our reputation as a leading warehouse distributor. Our commitment to customer satisfaction remains at the forefront of our business strategy, and we look forward to continuing to grow alongside our loyal customer base."

Paul Cifelli, Managing Director at Kinderhook, stated, "we are thrilled to partner with the exceptionally talented and experienced management team of Auto-Wares. We share a common vision for the future of Auto-Wares and believe that this partnership will unlock tremendous potential. With our collective resources and industry expertise, we are confident that Auto-Wares will continue its long history of growth alongside operational excellence."

"I knew from the start of this process that finding the right partner was critical to our long-term success, and I am confident that we have found the right partner in Kinderhook. The firm's deep industry expertise and track record of success in the automotive sector was a major factor in Auto-Wares' decision to partner with Kinderhook. Equally important was Kinderhook's cultural fit with our own organization. We share a common vision for growth, customer service, and operational excellence. I'm excited about what we can achieve together, and I look forward to a bright future for our company," said Fred Bunting, Founder of Auto-Wares.

In combining Lafayette with Auto-Wares, Pat James, President at Lafayette, commented, "first and foremost, we want to thank our employees and customers for the success we have had over the past 96 years. We could not have done it without all of their support. Auto-Wares presented an opportunity for our legacy to continue by offering great opportunities for our current employees and customers. We also would like to thank Auto-Wares for welcoming us into their family of companies."

Todd Leimenstoll, CEO of Auto-Wares, stated, "all of us at Auto-Wares are excited to have the Lafayette Warehouse team join the Auto-Wares Group of Companies. Lafayette Warehouse has a very successful history and tremendous reputation. I am thankful for the trust that Pat James and the James family have placed in us. We look forward to the next chapter in growing the company."

Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel and Stifel served as buy-side financial advisor to Kinderhook for the transaction with Auto-Wares. Honigman LLP served as legal counsel to Auto-Wares for the transaction with Lafayette. Financing for both transactions was provided by a Truist-led debt syndicate that included Union Bank, Fifth Third, KeyBank, Stifel, and Regions.

About Kinderhook Industries

Founded in 2003, Kinderhook Industries, LLC is a private investment firm that manages $5.4 billion of committed capital. We have made in excess of 400 investments and follow-on acquisitions since inception. Kinderhook's investment philosophy is predicated on matching unique, growth-oriented investment opportunities with exceptional financial expertise and our proprietary network of operating partners. Our focus is on middle market businesses with defensible niche market positioning in the healthcare services, environmental / business services, and automotive / light manufacturing sectors. We have a track record of successfully and consistently building industry leaders.

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About Auto-Wares

Auto-Wares Group of Companies is an aftermarket automotive distribution company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving the Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin markets. Auto-Wares Group of Companies is a member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance. The Alliance and Auto-Wares pride themselves on responding to the individual automotive needs of each customer.

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About Lafayette

Lafayette Auto Supply, founded by the late Paul James, first opened its doors in 1928. He began by selling tire repair supplies out of a Ford Model T. As the company grew, it opened its current location at 118 S. 4th Street in 1944. In 1960, Lafayette Auto Supply decided to expand its portfolio into small engine parts and opened Lafayette Warehouse, Inc. Then in 1973, Lafayette Warehouse, Inc. (LWI) moved into its current location at 115 S. 3rd Street. LWI continued to grow its Automotive Division by establishing Kokomo Auto Supply in Kokomo, IN (1999), NWI Auto Supply in Merrillville, IN (2003) and Lafayette Auto Supply Distribution Center (2015). In December 2021, LWI shifted their business concentration to focus on the ever-growing OEM and aftermarket auto parts division ending their small engine business after 60 years of uninterrupted service to their customers.

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