Market Overview

Kao Acquires Washing Systems, LLC, From Gryphon Investors in the United States and Strengthens Professional-use Products Business


Kao Corporation is pleased to announce that, through their US
subsidiary, they have completed the acquisition of Washing Systems, LLC
(hereafter, WSI; headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio) on August 9, 2018. WSI
was previously owned by San Francisco, California based private equity
firm Gryphon Investors. As a result of this acquisition, Kao Corporation
will be expanding their chemical solution business for commercial

WSI has achieved exceptional success in the North American and European
commercial laundry market by delivering industry-leading wash products
and processes for water-based textile cleaning and waste-water treatment
to textile rental and laundry companies, and by providing these
customers best-in-class service and integrated chemical supply systems.
In addition, the Ohio-based company has a proven track-record of
environmental stewardship, and was the first for-profit enterprise to
receive the Platinum Award (the highest award) from the Ohio
Environmental Protection Agency in 2017.

Kao develops professional-use products primarily in Japan through Kao
Professional Services Company, Ltd. Kao's mission is to maintain
people's safety, security, and comfort through supporting innovative
cleaning applications and hygiene management. With this acquisition, Kao
will promote global development of its commercial products business.

<Outline of Washing Systems, LLC>

  • Company name: Washing Systems, LLC
  • Year founded: 1989
  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, US
  • Business description: Leading provider of products and services to the
    commercial laundry market in North America and Europe, with an
    illustrious track record of delivering comprehensive technological
    innovations and best-in-class service protocols. WSI is recognized as
    the industry innovation leader and has been recognized by the EPA,
    OSHA, and National Pollution Prevention Roundtable.
  • Number of employees: Approximately 130

About Kao

Kao creates high-value-added products that enrich the lives of consumers
around the world. Through its portfolio of over 20 leading brands such
as Jergens, John Frieda, Molton Brown, Oribe, Attack, Bioré,
Goldwell, Kanebo, Laurier, Merries and Kao
is part of the everyday lives of people in Asia, Oceania, North America
and Europe. Combined with its chemical division, which contributes to a
wide range of industries, Kao generates about 1,500 billion yen ($13.6
billion, at the rate of 110 yen to U.S. dollar) in annual sales. Kao
employs about 33,000 people worldwide and has 130 years of history in
innovation. Please visit the Kao Group website for updated information.

About Gryphon Investors

Based in San Francisco, Gryphon Investors (
is a leading private equity firm focused on profitably growing and
competitively enhancing middle-market companies in partnership with
experienced management. For 23 consecutive quarters, Gryphon has been
ranked in Preqin's prestigious quarterly PE report as one of North
America's top-decile buyout firms based on consistency of strong
investment returns. Managing over $4 billion of equity investments and
capital since 1997, the firm has an extensive track record of leading
equity investments of $50 million to $200 million per portfolio company
with sales ranging from approximately $100 million to $500 million.
Gryphon prioritizes investment opportunities where it can form proactive
partnerships with owners and executives to build leading companies,
utilizing Gryphon's capital, specialized professional resources, and
operational expertise. Gryphon closed its fourth private equity buyout
fund, Gryphon IV, L.P., in November 2016 at $1.1 billion, and raised a
$100 million captive mezzanine fund, Gryphon Mezzanine Partners, L.P.,
in August 2017.

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