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Sorenson Capital buys St. George-based Wilson Electronics

Published June 26, 2013 9:20 am

Acquisition • Cellphone booster firm's international growth potential attracted bid.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake City private equity firm Sorenson Capital has acquired St. George-based Wilson Electronics, which produces cellphone signal boosters, it was announced Wednesday.

Sorenson purchased a controlling interest in Wilson for an undisclosed amount. Solamere Capital, the Massachusetts equity firm run by Mitt Romney's son, Tagg, also has a minor investment in the company.

Wilson develops and manufacturers signal boosters for boats, cars, homes and businesses that takes a weak cell phone signal and amplifies it for users having trouble connecting to a carrier's network. The company makes hundreds of models of devices and also sells to the industrial sector to boost signals at government buildings, hospitals and airports.

"A lot of public first responders use our technology, and there are a lot of testimonials from sheriffs and police chiefs," said Wilson CEO and President Robert Van Buskirk.

Entrepreneur Jim Wilson started the company in 1999, and it has since grown to an operation with 200 employees. He will remain on the board of directors, and be joined by Sorenson managing directors Fraser Bullock and Tim Layton, and principal LeGrand Lewis.

Sorenson Capital took an interest in Wilson Electronics because of its potential for growth in international markets. About 98 percent of Wilson's sales are in North America, Van Buskirk said. Representatives for Sorenson could not be reached for comment.

"Wilson has a reasonably good profile in this . . . industry when you're looking at smaller companies doing well," Van Buskirk said, noting that other equity firms have looked to acquire it.

There are no plans for the company to move from St. George or to reduce the workforce, Van Buskirk said.

"The only change would be more, we're looking to add people," he said. "We're looking to add a CFO, director of HR and a vice president of sales and marketing."

Other Utah companies in which Sorenson has made an investment include Web analytics company Omniture, crafting company Provo Craft and portable solar power systems manufacturer GOAL ZERO.

vince@sltrib.com