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Former Ecolab subsidiary is moving out, with big growth plans

Posted from Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

A former subsidiary of Ecolab Inc. is planning to invest millions of dollars over the next several years to become a much larger player in the commercial kitchen and appliance maintenance industry. Smart Care Equipment Solutions, a 900- employee business that changed its name from Ecolab Equipment Care this week, was sold by St. Paul-based Ecolab Inc. (NYSE: ECL) last October to Boston’s Audax Private Equity for an undisclosed amount. The business has been headquartered in St. Paul since its launch in 1998 and will remain there, said Smart Care CEO Bill Emory, formerly vice president and general manager of Ecolab Equipment Care. Smart Care provides services to 50,000 locations annually, including sites owned by Amazon.com Inc., McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Marriott International Inc.

Under Audax, Smart Care is embarking on a plan that will likely double the company’s revenue over the next five years, Emory said. In 2016, Equipment Care generated $180 million in revenue, according to Ecolab. With the added revenue, the company would likely hire more technicians, Emory said. Smart Care also intends to grow through acquisitions. Emory said it’s already engaged in talks with companies with sales in the $5 million to $100 million range. “Audax really wants to drive growth. They want to make it a good business, but also a very big business.” Smart Care is currently operating out of Ecolab’s office space in St. Paul, but is finalizing a lease agreement for a nearby 17,000-square-foot building for its new headquarters. Emory wouldn’t say exactly where until the lease is finalized. The company changed its name to Smart Care to accurately reflect how the company uses smart data to document and diagnose repair issues, Emory said. The Ecolab Equipment Care brand name will be fully retired by the end of January, the company said. The new headquarters will be home to about 90 people. SmartCare also has 100 people in offices in Minneapolis. The rest of its workforce is largely field-based technicians.