With engaging games like Grand Slam Superstar, Wheel of Fortune on FanDuel app, Game Taco aiming to grow ‘an audience in really a revolutionary way’ Grand Slam Superstar has a prominent location, tucked in the right corner, when the FanDuel Faceoff app is fully loaded on an iPhone. As the name implies, Grand Slam Superstar is a skill-based game where the user scores highest by hitting as many grand slams as possible over the course of 90 seconds. The game is infectious, but the app provides more than idle entertainment; it also allows users to compete against other online competitors for the chance to win cash and other prizes. Grand Slam Superstar and the well-known Wheel of Fortune are two of the five games available on the Fan Duel Faceoff app. The app is the product of an agreement between online gaming company FanDuel and Game Taco, a skill-based tournament gaming platform acquired by Platinum Equity more than a year ago. What was a top reason FanDuel, one of the most recognizable names in the online gaming sector, decided to partner with Game Taco? The valuable intellectual property library Game Taco has through it’s Platinum-sponsored acquisition of WorldWinner, a skill-based game pioneer. “We conducted a multi-year strategic analysis of the game space and found Game Taco was the best platform to provide FanDuel with both the operational know-how and well-known IP (WorldWinner),” FanDuel Faceoff general manager Aaron Champagne said. “We also were impressed with the growth and innovation mindset of (GameTaco CEO) Josh Barrow. “During our review, it became clear that Game Taco was the platform that most closely shared FanDuel’s vision of where the game space was going and how FanDuel could best win in this market.” Available in 32 states, the IOS-based platform allows players to compete through existing FanDuel accounts. The two other games available are King's Crossing and Block Trail, but more offerings will come. The multi-year agreement positions Game Taco well because of the access to FanDuel’s legion of daily fantasy sports players, who are inclined to go against competitors in skill-based games with the possibility of winning a little money. “It allows us access to a massive market that’s highly engaged without doing the traditional paid advertising,” Barrow said. “Part of our strategy is we can strategically do partnerships like this and open up an audience in really a revolutionary way.” Strategic thinking The Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to strike down a federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states was a major boost to the world of online sports gaming. Conventional wisdom at the time said major casino companies were the most well-positioned to capitalize on the change. That was a false assumption. “What most people didn't contemplate is that with daily fantasy sports sites like FanDuel, having developed customers in nearly 40 states at that time, they became the winners,” Game Taco executive chairman and FanDuel board member David Nathanson said. “As soon as the states passed the regulation allowing legalized sports betting, they had a database of customers that were already optimized to bet on sports.” Shortly before the court’s decision, Barrow founded Game Taco. “After building and having exits with two companies, I really wanted to do more of a passion play,” Barrow said. “I was inspired by what I saw happening with FanDuel and some other competitors. After doing a little research I learned the distinction between games of skill and games of chance, and the fact that drafting a fantasy team is considered a skill, and therefore not gambling.” It also means that FanDuel and other fantasy sites already have infrastructure to accommodate real-money competition. But you need engaging games and operational know-how to connect with users and open up skill-gaming. That’s the appeal of Game Taco. Early on, the company struck a deal with Atari for the IP associated with games like Asteroids and Centipede. As Game Taco was negotiating a deal with FanDuel, it acquired WorldWinner from a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Like Game Taco, WorldWinner offers tournaments for players of all skill levels featuring many of the world's favorite games, including Wheel of Fortune. WorldWinner is a pioneer in the space. “In combining the companies, you sort of got the best of both worlds: the most competitive technology and approach to skill games and the longest legacy in skill games,” Nathanson said. “But if you look at other companies in the skill gaming space, the majority of growth is coming through user acquisition.” So FanDuel provides the customers; Game Taco provides the experience and IP. Executives are excited about the future because of expected growth in the online gaming space. Few states allow online gaming with games of chance like slots. But the number is expected to grow, which will bring more users to online gaming platforms. “I believe if we establish the largest database of customers and skill games, what daily fantasy sports was to sports books, skill games, casual mobile skill games will be to iGaming in the future,” Nathanson said. “So we are building, in my opinion, the largest database of high-quality audiences in every state where it's permissible to play games of skill, because that's going to give us a huge competitive advantage as the world evolves to eventually allow games of chance.”
Proposed Carveout from Paris-based Specialty Materials Leader Adds to Global Buyout Firm’s Momentum in Europe LOS ANGELES and PARIS (July 28, 2022) – Platinum Equity today announced that it has entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire Imerys SA’s High Temperature Solutions business (HTS) in a transaction valued at approximately €930 million. The proposed transaction, which is subject to the fulfillment of customary closing conditions, including the information and consultation of works councils and other regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed by the end of the year. HTS is a leading global provider of refractory solutions serving more than 6,000 customers in the iron and steel, thermal and foundry markets. The business, which generated revenues of €801 million in 2021, employs approximately 2,800 people across 36 industrial sites in 16 countries. “We have great respect for the Imerys team, which has been an excellent steward of the HTS business for many years. We appreciate their confidence in our ability to deliver a transaction that is opportune for everyone involved,” said Platinum Equity Partner Louis Samson, who oversees the firm’s European operations. “Platinum’s carveout expertise and ability to manage through complex situations once again differentiated us. We are excited to add HTS to our growing pan-European portfolio and to support its new chapter of growth.” “We have great respect for the Imerys team, which has been an excellent steward of the HTS business for many years. We appreciate their confidence in our ability to deliver a transaction that is opportune for everyone involved. Platinum’s carveout expertise and ability to manage through complex situations once again differentiated us. We are excited to add HTS to our growing pan-European portfolio and to support its new chapter of growth.” Louis Samson, Partner, Platinum Equity Alessandro Dazza, CEO of Imerys said: “I would like to thank the HTS teams for their hard work, unwavering commitment and strong contribution to the Group over the years. HTS is a fantastic business, a world leader in its field, with a highly talented workforce, and it has demonstrated its potential for growth. We have chosen Platinum Equity for its industrial vision, open support for the management and commitment to further contribute to the HTS growth and development. This divestment is a significant milestone in the Group’s refocusing efforts around its core, high-growth specialty minerals business aligned with global mega trends.” HTS products primarily serve the construction, industrial equipment and automotive end markets, which are all sectors in which Platinum Equity has made significant investments. Platinum Equity has also owned several companies in the materials space, including steel processors Ryerson and PNA Group, and Kymera, which produces a variety of specialty materials, powders, pastes and granules used in a wide range of metallurgical, chemical and industrial processes. “We have a lot of experience investing in industrials businesses and the materials sector in particular. The high-temperature solutions industry is highly fragmented and HTS is a scalable platform with meaningful opportunities to grow,” said Platinum Equity Managing Director Malik Vorderwuelbecke. “We expect to leverage the company’s strong foundation and impressive technical capabilities to accelerate its growth, both organically and through targeted M&A investments in key product areas and geographies. We look forward to working with the company’s leadership team and supporting its long-term growth plans.” Michel Cornelissen, the Imerys executive who has led the HTS business since 2018, will continue as CEO of HTS following the proposed transition to new ownership. The HTS acquisition will further expand Platinum Equity’s growing portfolio of European investments. “We have had a lot of success as a transaction partner in Europe and are committed to continuing to invest the region,” added Mr. Samson. Other current European Platinum Equity investments include: European vacation rentals group Awaze (London); private label sweet biscuits manufacturer Biscuit International (Paris); global marine contractor De Wave Group (Genoa, Italy); wine producer Fantini Group Vini (Ortona, Italy); seafood provider Iberconsa (Vigo, Spain); UK property services firm Leaders Romans Group (Berkshire, England); and environmental services business Urbaser (Madrid). National Bank Financial Inc. is serving as financial advisor to Platinum Equity on the acquisition of HTS. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is providing legal counsel to Platinum Equity on the transaction. About Platinum Equity Founded in 1995 by Tom Gores, Platinum Equity is a global investment firm with approximately $36 billion of assets under management and a portfolio of approximately 50 operating companies that serve customers around the world. The firm is currently investing from Platinum Equity Capital Partners V, a $10 billion global buyout fund, and Platinum Equity Small Cap Fund, a $1.5 billion buyout fund focused on investment opportunities in the lower middle market. Platinum Equity specializes in mergers, acquisitions and operations – a trademarked strategy it calls M&A&O® – acquiring and operating companies in a broad range of business markets, including manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics, equipment rental, metals services, media and entertainment, technology, telecommunications and other industries. Over the past 27 years Platinum Equity has completed more than 350 acquisitions.
The purchase accelerates its Expansion Strategy with further manufacturing capacity for the European marketsBarcelona – July 18, 2022 — Peli Products Germany GmbH, a subsidiary of Pelican Products, Inc., the global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance protective cases, temperature-controlled packaging solutions and advanced portable lighting systems, announces the acquisition of HVB Kunststofftechnik GmbH’s injection and roto-molding business, Peli’s German-based manufacturing partner for the last 14 years.Since the beginning of the partnership in 2008, Peli has been investing in local production of an increasing number of cases – both injection-moulded and roto-moulded. This is consistent with Peli’s strategy to boost local capabilities that provide an improved customer experience by lowering lead times of supply as well as helping to achieve its global sustainability commitment. It is expected that additional investments will be deployed in the very near future at the manufacturing site to further increase the share of products “Made in Germany”.“Moving part of the production to Europe has helped us to cover most of our European demand with ‘Made in Germany’ PELI Cases,” said Piero Marigo, Peli’s President of International Business. “Continued local investment is crucial to attain the intertwined goals of sustainable development and corporate growth.”This acquisition is the first transaction under the ownership of Platinum Equity, which acquired Pelican Products and its affiliates and subsidiaries at the end of 2021, and reasserts its determination to support and accelerate the company’s international growth plans."We are delivering on our promise to invest in the company’s growth and expansion," said Platinum Equity Partner Jacob Kotzubei and Platinum Equity Managing Director Matthew Louie in a joint statement. "We will continue working with the team and providing the resources the company needs to pursue more opportunities to drive growth organically and through acquisitions."For more information about Peli Products visit www.peli.com.
Ryerson CEO Eddie Lehner told a crowd of elected officials, dignitaries and construction workers earlier this month that well-paying manufacturing jobs are key to the American economy, according to the Chicago Tribune. He made the remarks came during a ground-breaking ceremony for wholly owned subsidiary Central Steel & Wire. "I am going to say it three times for good luck," Lehner said. "Manufacturing, manufacturing, manufacturing." The new 900,000-square-foot facility – a service center facility and headquarters for Central Steel & Wire – is located in University Park (a southern suburb of Chicago). The new facility will provide more than 300 jobs and will feature expanded bar and tube processing equipment. The facility is expected to be operational by the middle of 2023. "When we make it here, everyone benefits and it's not a zero-sum game but we create new prosperity and new family wage jobs that can stand the test of competition and time," Lehner told the group. Ryerson (NYSE:RYI), a Platinum Equity portfolio company, is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and is one of the largest processors and distributors of metals in North America. The company processes and distributes a full line of products in stainless steel, aluminum, carbon steel and alloy steels and a limited line of nickel and red metals in various shapes and forms.
Investment in Hong Kong-based lingerie and swimwear company led by Platinum’s Singapore investment team LOS ANGELES and SINGAPORE, June 20, 2022 — Platinum Equity announced today the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire a controlling stake in international fashion lingerie and swimwear company Hop Lun from company founder Erik Ryd. Financial terms were not disclosed. Founded by Mr. Ryd in 1992 and headquartered in Hong Kong, Hop Lun is one of the world’s largest designers and manufacturers of intimate apparel and is a top provider of bra solutions in the US, UK and EU. “We have known Erik for a long time and have closely tracked Hop Lun’s growth and performance over the past several years,” said Jacob Kotzubei, the partner in Platinum Equity’s Los Angeles headquarters who oversees the firm’s Singapore-based team. “Erik is an energetic and passionate entrepreneur who cares deeply about the company’s employees and customers, and he has had a meaningful impact on the evolution of the industry.” The Hop Lun investment is being led by Platinum Equity’s Singapore office. “Our team in Asia has a lot of experience helping founder-owned businesses leverage Platinum’s operational expertise and M&A capabilities to maximize their potential,” added Mr. Kotzubei. “We are excited to work alongside Erik and his leadership team, and to bring those same resources to bear for Hop Lun.” Hop Lun employs more than 30,000 people and has manufacturing operations in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia and Indonesia. The company produces products for many of the world’s largest global retailers as well as for its own in-house brands. “Hop Lun is an ideal platform with multiple ways to evolve and expand,” said Matthew Louie, managing director at Platinum Equity. “We are excited to work with Erik to accelerate investments in growing the company, both organically and through strategic M&A, that can expand Hop Lun’s production capabilities, customer base and portfolio of owned brands.” Mr. Ryd will retain a significant stake in Hop Lun and will continue to help lead the business going forward. “I am proud of everything we have built over the last three decades and am confident Platinum is the perfect partner for our next phase of growth,” said Mr. Ryd. “Platinum’s operations expertise is well suited to help us navigate the increasing complexity of the apparel business and take advantage of the sector’s continued consolidation.” The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2022. BDA Partners and Goldman Sachs & Co. are serving as financial advisors to Hop Lun on the sale to Platinum Equity. Mayer Brown LLP is serving as Hop Lun’s legal counsel. Latham & Watkins LLP is providing legal counsel and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is providing debt financing counsel to Platinum Equity on the acquisition of Hop Lun. About Platinum Equity Founded in 1995 by Tom Gores, Platinum Equity is a global investment firm with approximately $36 billion of assets under management and a portfolio of approximately 50 operating companies that serve customers around the world. The firm is currently investing from Platinum Equity Capital Partners V, a $10 billion global buyout fund, and Platinum Equity Small Cap Fund, a $1.5 billion buyout fund focused on investment opportunities in the lower middle market. Platinum Equity specializes in mergers, acquisitions and operations – a trademarked strategy it calls M&A&O® – acquiring and operating companies in a broad range of business markets, including manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics, equipment rental, metals services, media and entertainment, technology, telecommunications and other industries. Over the past 27 years Platinum Equity has completed more than 350 acquisitions.
When Platinum Equity announced the $5.25 billion acquisition of Solenis, the firm was highly complementary of the water treatment chemistry company’s leadership. “It is an exceptionally well-run organization with an outstanding management team and a service-oriented culture,” Platinum Equity Partner Jacob Kotzubei said when the definitive agreement was announced last summer. “We believe in the company's mission and we are excited to invest in its continued growth and expansion.” That leadership was acknowledged recently as a US Best Managed Company for the second year in a row by The Wall Street Journal and Deloitte in their program recognizing outstanding U.S. private companies and the achievement of their management teams. The release said: “The 2021 designees have demonstrated excellence in strategic planning and execution, a commitment to their people and fostering a dynamic, resilient culture, as well as strong financials, all while facing the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite major challenges and immense pressure, they continued to lead with purpose and the vision to make significant contributions to their industries, communities, workforces and the economy.” As part of Platinum’s Annual General Meeting program last fall, Solenis CEO John Panichella was asked to touch upon these themes. In a wide-ranging conversation, Panichella explained Solenis’ mission, the Platinum-sponsored merger with pool-treatment company Sigura Water, its commitment to ESG and how Platinum will impact the company’s future. PE: What does Solenis do? Panichella: We provide specialty chemicals and technical services for water-intensive industries. Our solutions generally derive sustainable outcomes for customers around conserving and reusing water, using energy more efficiently, reducing waste in processes, and driving raw material efficiencies by consuming less and reusing more. Panichella: Our chemistries make your everyday life better. For customers of our pool solutions business, we make pool and spa water safe through our biocidal chemistries. (Biocidal is a product with an active substance that is intended to combat harmful organisms). Our industrial solutions team focuses on industrial water-treatment products that enable manufacturing processes to be more efficient. Our consumer solutions team enables papermakers to enhance the functional properties and visual characteristics of their products, and to optimize their pulp and papermaking processes. When you receive something in a box, more than likely our products made it stronger and more sustainable. PE: Who are your major customers? Panichella: Our major customers are refineries, chemical producers, power producers and paper manufacturers. Exxon, Dow Chemical, BASF or Marathon Oil would be examples of industrial water customers. In the tissue and towel industry, this would be customers like Kimberly-Clark or Procter & Gamble. And in the food packaging area, this would be customers like Graphic Packaging. In the corrugated (more durable cardboard) packaging area, this would be customers like International Paper, Packaging Corporation of America, and WestRock. PE: What are the company's top priorities following the transition to Platinum? Panichella: In the short term, we are focused on executing our strategy and business plan, which calls for us to grow the company and pay down our debt. This is a growth opportunity because the water treatment market as we define it is about a $36 billion market, growing at 4% to 5% annually. Our strategy will be to capture our fair share of that growth market. PE: What are the factors driving that growth right now in the water treatment markets? Panichella: Environmental regulations are a key factor. Actions by countries around the world generally mean water cleanliness is a more stringent requirement; it must meet higher standards before it can be discharged into the environment. And all those types of requirements drive the demand for our products. Water scarcity also is a trend that's driving consumption of our products, because as the world gets warmer and water availability is reduced, people and manufacturers will need to reuse the water. Cleaning water so it can be reused really drives the need for our technologies. Panichella: The Amazon effect is good for our corrugated packaging business. Think about it: You point and click every day. What shows up at your house? A box. Our products go into making that box, giving it strength and giving it light weight. Then there's a big trend around plastics. Every day you see the news about plastics in the oceans. As a result, consumer brands have really recognized the impact that single-use plastics have on the environment. And so, consumer brands are driving the conversion from plastics to fiber-based solutions. These fiber-based solutions are perfect for us because we enable fiber to be used as a package. We give it dry strength; we give it wet strength, we give it barrier coatings. Those are just some examples of really positive trends that are driving the growth in this market. PE: Why are Solenis and Sigura a good fit? Panichella: We both participate in the water space, selling products that really make water work. One of the key things you try to do with water is keep it safe so people can be around it. Solenis sells a line of biocides to disinfect water used in packaging mills, in industrial cooling applications, so it is a key technology for us. If you look at the Sigura business, it's all around disinfection in pools and spas. When you combine Solenis and Sigura, you create very close to a $900 million business that's focused on disinfection in water systems. PE: How did the Platinum team characterize their interest in Solenis? Panichella: Well, Platinum's interest in us began with their acquisition of Sigura. They studied the water space, thought it was attractive for a lot of the reasons that I've already shared with you. Then once they acquired Sigura, they knew how to build a bigger platform. PE: Is there anything specific about Platinum's approach that impressed you? Panichella: Yeah, what I liked about the Platinum team was their thorough diligence; they went deep on a lot of areas. And while that was exhausting for my team, the reality is you like to work with somebody who's going to go deep and make sure they really understand the business, the people, the markets. I also could see that they had operational expertise, and I think that fit nicely with our culture. And I thought the people were high-skill people. PE: How does Solenis help its customers meet sustainability goals? How does Solenis products help the environment? Panichella: About 80% of our sales revenue is directly attributed to products that help customers meet their sustainability goals. That's really what the company is built upon. Panichella: In the wastewater treatment area, as an example, our products are used in sludge disposal areas to reduce the amount of solids that go to landfill. These products, help customers to efficiently remove water from those solids so that they can landfill them more effectively. In food packaging, our products provide barrier coatings that allow products such as paper cups, french fry boxes and ice cream containers to be compostable and recyclable. In the energy area, our deposit-control technologies help reduce their energy costs. We also help them gain efficiency by reusing water. PE: How has Solenis invested in sustainability? Panichella: First, it's about our products and what we do for customers. I told you that 80% of our products drive sustainable outcomes for customers. That's a pretty big investment on our part. Panichella: Second, we invest in new products. We spend about 2% of our sales on R&D investments that are driving these sustainable outcomes. Panichella: Then the third thing that we really focused on is our sustainability document and approach to explain to investors, employees, and customers, our commitment to ESG. We named a chief sustainability officer, created a sustainability report which is posted on our website and we're dedicating a lot of resources to drive improvement across all aspects of ESG. So we've invested a lot of money; this is pretty core to our strategy at Solenis.
During Q&A session with NBC Sports broadcaster Mike Tirico, Gores discusses Platinum origins, civic engagement, diversity goals and philanthropy: ‘We’re just scratching the surface’ MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – The chat began with a light-hearted exchange expressing hope the Detroit Pistons reach the NBA Finals in the near future. It ended with applause from an audience impressed by a promise to do more to help society. In his first appearance at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference, Platinum Equity founder and Pistons owner Tom Gores pledged $100 million to form a national charitable organization. Gores made the announcement toward the end of a nearly 40-minute conversation with Emmy-award winning NBA Sports broadcaster Mike Tirico. "I really want to have an organization like Platinum that … handles problems," Gores said to cheers. “Now, I'm really thinking about the future, and one of the things that concerns me about the future is that I feel like in our world, we are controlled by crisis. And while we are controlled by crisis, we don't explore opportunities.” Gores’ chat with Tirico was one of several featured sessions at the Michigan-based conference, which also welcomed notables like Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Meacham, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and many other sports celebrities, business leaders and elected officials. After his session, Gores briefly chatted with Whitmer. More details on the charitable organization will come later and the announcement follows Gores’ $20 million commitment to build a community center in Detroit. The pledges were well-received at the Detroit Regional Chamber-sponsored conference devoted to discussing public policy. During his chat with Tirico, with his wife, Holly, and daughter, Catherina, seated among the audience at the Grand Hotel Theatre, Gores discussed the origins of Platinum, the changing roles of business during polarizing times, the Pistons’ community engagement and the need to do more. (Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length). Tirico: Why do you feel like this is your calling at this point in your life? Gores: I was blessed enough to be successful. I grew up in Michigan. I was born in Nazareth, Israel. I came over when I was four, went to kindergarten, and I barely spoke English. It's really not a matter of want to, it's just the responsibility. The thing that excited me as a kid, was if I ever had a chance to help people, that was a big deal. It's my responsibility. There's a lot to do. Tirico: When you see the marches happening after George Floyd, go back to your words 11 years ago about the (Pistons being a community asset). That community thing doesn't always come through when people own sports teams, but you really get a feel for that, and you connect to your players. It's not just a Tom Gores thing; it's a Detroit Pistons organization thing. Gores: The only thing I can think of is to not let you guys down, not let the city down. They supported me in becoming an owner of the Pistons, and I have great responsibilities. Watching it, as much as I absorbed all these things we've done, our thesis is connectivity, empowerment, all of this stuff. It's just like the company I built, Platinum Equity. At the same time, I have to say for all that we've done, we're just scratching the surface. We're not even close to doing what we need to do ultimately. Tirico: The theme of the conference is the business community's changing role in polarizing times. How can we get everybody to hold hands and get along? How does that happen? Gores: You have to establish common ground with everyone. We have to listen to each other. I've found that great people can misunderstand each other, and unless they talk and they listen, they don't really find out how to get to where they have to get to. We have to talk to about why. Why do you feel this way? Whether you're right or wrong, we have to engage with that voice and be open, otherwise we're fraught with misunderstanding. That's an important part of the culture. I run my company that way. I run my family that way. Tirico: We talk about culture a lot in sports. It sounds good, but it's really hard to define. Before I ask you about culture with sports, I want to ask you about culture with Platinum, because what is Platinum? It's such a variety of businesses that Platinum touches. It’s everything from games, Bingo cards to golf carts to a whole bunch of different things. How do you get one culture, or at least the seed for culture? Gores: Culture is more than a feeling. It's the way you act. It's how you function every day, your processes, how you communicate with each other. Although I have all kinds of different people at Platinum, they're like-minded in a certain way. I love strong people, but if you are rude, there's really no room for it. Even if you get some results, the journey matters and how people feel matters. Tirico: The topic of diversity has been in every boardroom, every conversation. How many people have somebody new in charge of Diversity Equity & Inclusion, an office that didn't exist four years ago? Gores: I think diversity needs to be embraced. If you don't embrace diversity, you don't see other points of views, so I think diversity is good. Better decisions get made, more collaboration. We have to have a fair process. One of the frustrations out there is we use these words with no plan to execute on it, and there's nothing without execution. Tirico: You're empowering players to be a part of the solution. What are the experiences in the empowerment part that carries from Platinum to the Pistons to your family foundation that are really starting to pay dividends in the Detroit community? Gores: With the players as an example, after the George Floyd thing, we held a Zoom call. Everybody was upset about it, but we can't do everything from up here. I know where I am today, I'm not living on the ground every day. The players are, and they have, and they've been hurt, and they've been through tough situations. Gores: I let them know that we wanted to do something, that I was not going to define it myself, but we were committed to do something to make more progress, and that we would like to engage them. They visited the site that we now have, and they dug in, and they're fully invested. Now it's theirs. It's not mine. I don't care about my name there. I care about momentum. Tirico: I want to go back to you. You really had a vision, but you didn't know what it was necessarily. When you headed west, it wasn't with a destination in mind. Can you just go back to the story of how you made Platinum a reality? Gores: I was 22, and I was just trying to build a software business. My dad had just passed away, and my dad's the architect of our family. My mom is the builder of our family. They really worked together well. My dad always told me: " I didn't bring you here now to stop. You have to keep going." It was both really sad for me, but also inspirational in that was his vision, and that's why vision is so important. Nine months later, I finally was in the car, and put a little music on, and it really just got me inspired. I needed to move to the West Coast to help build this software company. I met Holly probably six months after my dad died. Tirico: Michigan State Spartans, both, right? Gores: Yeah. Didn't meet there. She avoided me, I guess. I asked Holly if she wanted to go. We didn't know each other that well. She said yes, surprisingly, and we drove out. We drove out and got settled there, eventually moved my mom there, and then started Platinum in 1995. Tirico: What a great story. For those who didn't see it yesterday, Tom and the Pistons had a great announcement about the community center, a $20 million project. This is the start, but I know from our conversations, this is not the end. What's next in your vision and your ability to leave a legacy here and give back? Gores: One of the things that concerns me about the future, is that we are controlled by crisis. And while we're controlled by crisis, we don't pursue opportunity. In the next several months, I think probably by the end of the year, I want to create an organization. The community center is just the first of it. I'll personally put $100 million in for myself.
MACKINAC ISLAND – Social justice has become a major point of discussion since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Platinum Equity Founder and CEO Tom Gores is no different than other business leaders who have pondered the issue over the last two years. But when he decided to act, instead of going it alone, he sought guidance from those with personal stories of being slighted simply because of skin color. Those discussions led Gores, who is owner of the Detroit Pistons, to establish a $20 million fund to build a new community center in Detroit. The decision came after a recommendation from Pistons players and team officials, who conducted due diligence for months after Gores sought the organization’s input before the start of the 2021-22 season. The announcement occurred a few days after the two-year anniversary of Floyd’s death. “I let them know that we wanted to do something, that I was not going to define it myself, but we were committed to do something to make more progress and do it fast,” Gores told NBC Sports broadcaster Mike Tirico during a question-answer session at the Detroit Regional Chamber-sponsored Mackinac Policy Conference in early June. “Obviously everybody was upset about (George Floyd), but true change comes from the ground. The players are (living on the ground), they've been hurt, and they've been through tough situations.” Gores has pledged to work with the Detroit Parks & Recreation Department and residents to develop the new 25,000 square foot multi-use facility adjacent to historic Brennan Pool in the Cody Rouge neighborhood. The plan will also renovate the existing pool and locker room facilities and bring a diverse range of year-round programming to the neighborhood. The project is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2024. “The facility itself will be the best of its kind and provide residents with a safe space to learn, play and grow,” Gores said. “But more than just a building, we will create a hub that brings together people from the neighborhood and throughout the city who want to make a difference in this community.” A second phase of the plan will create an enclosed structure around one of the two Olympic-size pools located at the Brennan site, creating year-round access to swimming lessons and water safety classes to address an unmet need for Detroiters. “When you look at a map of community center locations throughout the city of Detroit, we have known for a long time that there was a big hole in the Cody Rouge neighborhood,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “Now, thanks to Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons, that hole is being filled and the residents of Cody Rouge will have a new first-class indoor facility providing a wide range of activity and engagement space.” How the effort to help Cody Rouge neighborhood began The initiative is the next step in a journey that officially began when Gores told Pistons players, coaches, front office personnel and other members of the organization that he was establishing the fund to help social justice efforts in Detroit. “I’ll participate in helping the system and the process so it runs like a machine and every day someone is thinking about it,” Gores said during a Zoom call to the organization the night following Media Day activities in September. “We’re not going to be those people that just going to react to when something happens. “Enough has happened that we should be reacting every single day.” Gores decided to seek input from the entire organization during discussions with Pistons coach Dwane Casey, general manager Troy Weaver and vice chairman Arn Tellem. There were two guiding principles: the program should be additive rather than supporting existing community relations initiatives, and that its priorities be set by Pistons employees, players, coaches and staff. The team worked with the players over several months to identify key areas of focus, which include education, mentorship, vocational services, life skills, financial literacy, emotional intelligence for youth, and food insecurity. The overarching theme was to help youths and their parents. The players were swayed after visits to area facilities and community organizations. During the final meeting of the season in April, players unanimously decided that the most impactful impact would be to build a community center in an underserved Detroit neighborhood. When growing up in Rochester, N.Y., Pistons center Isaiah Stewart played youth soccer and boxed before discovering basketball. He said community centers provided a vital role in his journey from childhood to adulthood. “Community centers provided a safe space because after school I always had something to do,” Stewart said. “That led me to boxing, soccer, and eventually getting into basketball, but I was always busy. They can also give adults who work some peace of mind knowing their kids are in a safe environment, learning or getting better or just having fun.” Finding Rouge Park District 7, where Rouge Park is located, is the only Detroit district without an indoor community center. During a recent morning visit to the park, city residents walked the park’s four hiking trails. Brennan Pool, which opened in 1929, was easily located. There are two Olympic-sized swimming pools, which hosted the 1956 and 1960 U.S. Olympic swimming and diving trials and was included as part of Detroit’s proposal to host the 1968 Summer Olympic Games (eventually awarded to Mexico City). The center will serve more than 24,000 with youths making up 35% of the area, according to data provided by the city. More than 60% of area residents are considered low income. As Pistons officials explored options, Duggan and his team presented an investment plan to renovate eight existing centers. Duggan told WJR-AM that he gave Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem a personal tour of the park and he described a quick connection. “They didn’t come in and say here’s what we’re doing,” Duggan told the radio station during an appearance at the conference. “They came to me and said what’s the most critical need in the city. When I took Arn out and showed him this beautiful pool and the fact that it isn’t used year-round, his eyes just lit up he said this is exactly what we want to do for the community.” City officials and Pistons representatives and will host community meetings with District 7 residents to solicit neighborhood feedback on amenities and programming they would like to see incorporated into the new center. When work is completed, the site will become Detroit’s flagship community center with the idea it will be the most used indoor recreation center in the city. Gores is planning on doing more as the announcement is the first in a series of initiatives Gores envisions for the Tom Gores Family Foundation. At the end of his Mackinac appearance, Gores revealed he will invest $100 million in creating a charitable organization. "So, in the next several months, and I think probably by the end of the year, I want to create an organization that the community center is just the first of it," Gores said. “I'm really thinking about the future, and I feel like in our world, especially in our desire for social progress, we are controlled by crisis. While we're controlled by crisis, we don't pursue opportunity. “Crisis can't cost us opportunity.”