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J.F. Cook Co. gets new owner

By Sean Ryan

A former employee of Generation Growth Inc. has taken over as president and majority owner of J.F. Cook Co. Inc.

Benjamin Engel replaces former company president Troy Reese, who left Oak Creek-based Cook in February and sold his stake in the company to Generation Growth, Milwaukee. Reese, president of Milwaukee-based T.L. Reese Corp., in July teamed with Generation Growth, which provides buyout money to companies, to buy Cook after two of the company’s three owners retired.

Engel, who has worked at Generation Growth for more than two years and took over Cook on Tuesday, has been working as a vice president of operations for the contractor for the past few months.

“We talked to a lot of very, very strong people,” said Cory Nettles, Generation Growth managing director, “including some competitors who approached us about a merger.”

Engel said he does not intend to replace Cook’s executives and plans to grow the company as the construction industry recovers from its slump.

Cook will retain its status as a certified minority-owned and disadvantaged-business enterprise under Engel’s ownership.

The company, which historically worked as an overhead door and window subcontractor, will continue to seek opportunities as a general contractor, Nettles said. Neither Nettles nor Engel would comment on specifics of the company’s growth plans.

“That’s really going to depend on how we come out of this recession,” Nettles said. “Growth for us is really dependent on the bottom line and not the head count.”

Generation Growth, established in 2007, has acquired four companies, three of them in construction, and Nettles said the company has enough money to acquire three or four more.

“It is a very good time,” he said, “to be making acquisitions.”

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