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Arlington Capital Partners Announces the Formation of Keel, a New Leader in Defense Manufacturing, and its Acquisitions of Merrill Technologies Group and Metal Trades, LLC

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WASHINGTON, January 25, 2024-- Arlington Capital Partners (“Arlington”), a Washington, D.C.-area private investment firm, today announced the formation of Keel Holdings, LLC (“Keel” or the “Company”), a leading manufacturer of complex structures for the highest priority programs within the Navy, Army, and Air Force. The Company was formed through the merger of existing Arlington portfolio company Pegasus Steel (“Pegasus”) with the newly completed acquisitions of Metal Trades, LLC (“Metal Trades”) and Merrill Technologies Group (“Merrill”).

With more than one million square feet of manufacturing floor space and approximately 700 employees, Keel will offer its customers a vertically integrated suite of design, engineering, fabrication, machining, integration, assembly, finishing, and surface treatment capabilities across its nine facilities in Michigan and South Carolina. The Company’s locations include a facility strategically located with direct frontage to deep water that allows for large module delivery by barge to submarine and aircraft carrier customers. Led by CEO Brian Carter, the Company delivers a robust set of capabilities to meet the growing demands of the nuclear Navy and critical programs within the broader Department of Defense (“DoD”), industrial and commercial end markets.

Brian Carter, CEO of Keel, said, “Keel will play a pivotal role in delivering significant capability growth to the U.S. defense industrial base. Our efficient and effective approach positions us to increase the speed of delivery and production for the country’s highest priority defense programs. I look forward to working alongside the talented teams from Pegasus, Metal Trades, and Merrill, whose hard work and expertise have laid the foundation for Keel’s emergence as a formidable and positive force in the defense industry.”

Peter Manos, a Managing Partner at Arlington, said, “Keel is becoming the leading Tier 1 provider of large, fabricated structures to its OEM customers that serve the critical needs of the Navy, Army, Air Force, and DoD. By achieving vertical integration through significant investments in facilities, equipment, and human capital, the Company is prepared for the large increase in activity that it expects across its entire DoD and industrial customer base.”

Ben Ramundo, a Principal at Arlington, added, “Keel is supporting the steep production ramp of the Columbia and Virginia class submarine programs by positioning itself to deliver turnkey structures and modules to its customers, empowering them to use valuable shipyard space more effectively. We are excited to support the entire management team as the industrial logic of these transactions yields measurable benefits to Keel’s customers and the national security community.”

Merrill Technologies Group is a leading manufacturer of large metal parts and structures, providing design, engineering, machining, fabrication, and integration solutions for the defense, aerospace, and industrial markets. Founded in 1968 by Gary and Mary Kay Yackel near Saginaw, MI, Merrill was most recently owned and operated by Bob and Jeff Yackel, who together stated, “We are extremely proud of the legacy we have built at Merrill. After over 50 years as a family-owned company, we are excited for the partnership between Merrill, Pegasus, and Metal Trades, which is going to bring a unique strength to the market. Together as Keel, our design and engineering expertise, culture of manufacturing excellence, and diverse set of capabilities will continue to help support the Navy, Army, and Air Force, as well as the commercial sector. We are especially thankful for our employees, customers, and vendors that helped grow and support Merrill over the years.”

Metal Trades is a critical provider of large-scale metal fabrication and ship repair services to the Navy, Army, and commercial customers. Founded in 1962 by J.E. Corbin near Charleston, SC, and most recently owned and operated by Rusty Corbin and his family, the company has a longstanding working relationship with Pegasus and just completed the construction of more than 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space along the South Carolina waterfront. “This family business has been built over generations and we are pleased that it will continue to provide employment while serving an important role strengthening our national security,” added Corbin.

Founded in 2007 in Charleston, SC by Tony Deering and acquired by Arlington in June 2023, Pegasus is a leading provider of complex fabricated steel structures used in submarine, aircraft carrier, and other naval and industrial systems.

DLA Piper and Morrison Foerster served as legal counsel and Houlihan Lokey served as financial advisor to Keel and Arlington. Charter Capital Partners served as financial advisor and Butzel Long served as legal counsel to Merrill Technologies Group. Mensura Capital, LLC and Mensura Securities, LLC (member FINRA and SPIC) served as financial advisors and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP served as legal counsel to Metal Trades.

About Keel

Built for precision with an eye for innovation, Keel was formed through the merger of Pegasus Steel, Merrill Technologies Group, and Metal Trades. We are focused on delivering unmatched quality in fabrication, machining and integration to the U.S. Navy, the broader Defense Industrial Base supply chain, and our industrial customers. For more information, visit www.keelusa.com.

About Arlington Capital Partners

Arlington Capital Partners is a Washington, D.C.-area private investment firm specializing in government regulated industries. The firm partners with founders and management teams to build strategically important businesses in the aerospace and defense, government services and technology, and healthcare sectors. Since its inception in 1999, Arlington has invested in over 150 companies and is currently investing out of its $3.8 billion Fund VI. For more information, visit Arlington’s website at www.arlingtoncap.com and follow Arlington on LinkedIn.

Contact:
Ryan Fitzgibbon or Meredith Bishop
Prosek Partners
Pro-arlington@prosek.com

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