LEWISBURG – A North Carolina recreation supplier acquired Playworld Systems as a new division that will oversee key brands in North America.

The acquisition, according to company officials on Monday, makes the Lewisburg-based company the largest outdoor recreation company in the world, joining the likes of Little Tikes Commercial, Miracle Recreation, Soft Play, HAGS, EZ Dock and USA Shade as PlayPower brands. The deal, of which no financial terms were disclosed, was completed Monday.

Matthew Miller, current Playworld CEO, will assume the role of president, North America Play at PlayPower, reporting to PlayPower CEO Joseph Copeland. Miller will work from offices in Lewisburg and will be responsible for ensuring the continued growth and protecting the strengths of key PlayPower brands in North America, according to a press release.

“We really feel like we bring the team, the product lines, the innovations to help make PlayPower a stronger team,” Miller said. “This is very much about longterm sustainability of the business. It’s all about growing the business in central Pennsylvania, as well as around the world with the rest of the PlayPower team.”

Playworld’s staff will remain at 340 local employees.

“This is a growth strategy,” Miller said. “One of the reasons why PlayPower liked Playworld was how effectively and efficiently we manufacture our products. We will use that know-how to improve all the facilities as well as bring additional production into Lewisburg. It’s a win-win for the employees.”

Furthermore, the company’s community involvement will not slow down, especially the company’s Miller Center for Recreation and Wellness Center at the developing Penn House Commons. Miller expects the project to be completed by summer 2017.

Copeland said he is “equally excited” about the skills, innovation and excellence in manufacturing that Playworld will add to the global company.

“We’re always looking to grow the business with acquisitions that fit with our strategy,” Copeland said. “The acquisition of Playworld creates a significant growth opportunity for the PlayPower organization. We will leverage the scale of our global business with the strengths of Playworld, including product innovation and manufacturing excellence.”

PlayPower “values Playworld’s play advocacy works” and is committed to “investing in the future of play,” Copeland said. “Together, we will advocate for the value of play in societies around the globe,”

Dale Miller, founder and chairman of Playworld, said the acquisition is a “seminal event” for the Lewisburg company, the employees and distributors.

“Over the last 45 years, our family and dedicated team members and partners built a company of which we are immensely proud,” Dale Miller said. “Joining PlayPower provides access to resources that will enable us to build upon that success and ensure Playworld remains the competitive business it is today for decades to come.”

PlayPower will maintain its primary North American manufacturing facility in Monett, Mo., while Playworld’s Lewisburg operation will continue producing products for the Playworld brand. Additionally, Matthew Miller is making an investment in PlayPower and will join Copeland on its board of directors.

PlayPower, a portfolio company of Littlejohn & Co LLC, is headquartered in North Carolina, with manufacturing facilities in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, Sweden and the United Kingdom. As the world leader in recreation equipment manufacturing, the company produces everything from commercial playgrounds to floating modular boat docks

Playworld was founded as QE Manufacturing Company by Robert Miller in 1952 as a producer of precision machine parts. In 1959, the company began supplying products to other playground companies. In 1971, they introduced their own brand of commercial playground equipment and became Playworld.

Email Justin Strawser at jstrawser@dailyitem.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLStrawser.

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