Closet Works Founder Begins New Chapter after Company Is Sold
By Rich Christianson | Posted: 11/14/2012 4:54PM
ELMHURST, IL – Mike Carson, who launched Closet Works 25 years ago and was instrumental in founding two closet industry trade groups, is contemplating his next career move after Pfingsten Partners initiated the sale of half of the company last month.
Pfingsten, a private equity firm, is in the process of selling 50% of Closet Works to Frank Happ, vice chairman of Suzo-Happ Group, a supplier of gaming and amusement products. Pfingsten will retain the remaining 50% ownership of the Elmhurst-based company.
Carson said he has volunteered to stay on as a consultant during the company’s transition. Carson had sold the company to Pfingsten in March 2007. As part of the transaction, Carson invested in the new company and continued to serve as Closet Works president for the next five years.
“I felt I had taken Closet Works as far as I could without additional capital,” Carson said. “This seemed like the best move to keep the company growing.”
Carson founded Closet Works in his two-car garage in 1987. The company grew to become the largest Chicago-area-based manufacturer of closet and home storage solutions, before the Great Recession employing more than 100 people with sales of more than $11 million. Closet Works’ growth record earned it a place in Wood & Wood Products’ prestigious annual WOOD 100 list of fast-growing wood products companies on multiple occasions.
In 1999, Carson organized and served as the first chairman of the National Closet Group (NCG), comprised of more than 40 independent closet companies located throughout the U.S. The NCG led to the birth of the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals (ACSP) in 2005; Carson was elected as the frist ACSP president. Carson also was a frequent presenter at the annual Closets Conference & Expo and authored a regular column in CLOSETS about running a closet company for several years.
For his vision, dedication and many contributions to helping propel the closet and storage industry forward, Carson was awarded the ACSP’s first-ever Pioneer Award at the 2008 Closets & Home Organization Conference & Expo in West Palm, FL. Among other industry recognitions, Carson was lauded as a Wood industry Market Leader by Wood & Wood Products in 2009.
Now as he looks forward, Carson said he is mulling over "a million ideas. We'll have to wait and see which ones stick."
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About the Author
Rich ChristiansonRich Christianson is Associate Publisher and Editor at Large of Woodworking Network. During his 25+ years covering the wood products industry, Rich has toured hundreds of manufacturing plants throughout North America, Europe and Asia. His reporting has covered everything from the state of the industry and impact of wood imports to technology and environmental issues. In his current capacity he is responsible for editing the daily Woodworking Network Update newsletter and coordinating events including the annual Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and Canada’s biennial Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Google+.
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