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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

After acquiring four other play and recreation equipment businesses in 2016, PlayCore Holdings Inc. started 2017 with yet another business buyout on Monday.

The Chattanooga-based PlayCore has bought Worlds of Wow, a Denton, Tex.-based designer and developer of indoor, themed-play environments.

Worlds of Wow was started 12 years ago by Reagan Hillier, who agreed to merge his business with PlayCore Holdings this month. Worlds of Wow has grown to a 40-employee company that produces play stages, equipment and designs in a 20,000-square-foot facility in Denton, Texas.

Under the ownership of PlayCore, Worlds of Wow will continue to operate as its own business, developing projects for churches, malls, family entertainment centers, offices and recreational centers.

"We're excited about this next step for the company," Hillier said Monday after completing the sale of the business. "PlayCore is an amazing group of growth-oriented companies and we are looking forward to being a part of their business dynamic."

Terms of PlayCore's latest purchase were not announced. But it is similar to nearly a dozen other acquisitions PlayCore has made over the past couple of decades of other playground, sporting goods or recreational equipment makers and distributors.

"We are excited about this latest addition to our play division," PlayCore CEO Roger Posacki said in a statement. "Our company's heritage was built on play, and the acquisition of Worlds of Wow allows us to expand our service in the indoor environment, while greatly enhancing our overall portfolio."

Last year, PlayCore bought online distributor BYO Recreation in St. Augustine, Fla., musical instrument maker Freenotes Harmony Park in Durango, Colo.; open-shades producer Porter Corp., in Holland, Mich.; and Knorr Systems, which offers a wide range of aquatic equipment and services from its facility in Santa Anna, Calif.

"Certainly, acquisitions remain a key part of our growth strategy," said Richard Ruegger, senior vice president and chef financial officer for PlayCore. "These purchases have helped to expand our distribution in some markets where we haven't had a lot of presence and its also gives us some custom-themed capabilities that will be a nice add-on to the existing playground businesses that we have."

PlayCore, which was founded in 1979, has grown to a holding company with 20 brands that encompass several categories of recreation, including play, aquatics, site furnishings, indoor and outdoor fitness, and spectator seating.

To house the 125 workers the company employs at its Chattanooga headquarters, PlayCore is preparing to move into its own headquarters building, now used as the headquarters for FSG Bank at 531 Broad St. FSG sold the bank building last year for nearly $5.4 million to Harbert Realty of Birmingham, Ala., which will lease the structure to PlayCore, which plans to move into the building by this summer.

Nationwide, PlayCore has about 1,800 workers and more than $400 million in annual sales. New York City-based Sentinel Capital Partners, a private equity firm, bought PlayCore in 2014.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfree press.com or at 423-757-6340.

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