Sterling Partners Announces Strategic Partnership with Grand Rapids Ophthalmology

In connection with the partnership, Sterling has formed Great Lakes MSO to provide comprehensive management support to Grand Rapids Ophthalmology and other leading eye care practices

Grand Rapids, Mich., February 23, 2017 – Sterling Partners announced today that it has partnered with Grand Rapids Ophthalmology (“GRO”), a leading comprehensive eye care provider offering ophthalmology, optometry, and retail optical services throughout West Michigan. GRO is the first eye care provider to join Great Lakes Management Services Organization (“Great Lakes MSO”), a practice management services organization formed by Sterling to support GRO’s local expansion and larger-scale growth through Great Lakes’ resources, management team, and capital.

Founded in 1982, GRO is recognized as one of the largest fully-integrated eye care medical groups in West Michigan. It offers a full suite of eye care services including optometry, retail optical, oculoplastics, cataract surgery, and retinal subspecialties. GRO’s eye care services are supported by experienced professionals, a fully-integrated back office, and technologically advanced capabilities. The company employs the largest number of eye care specialists and professionals in the region – 11 ophthalmologists, 18 optometrists, and 180 other technicians and staff in 11 locations.

“For more than 30 years, Grand Rapids Ophthalmology has delivered exceptional service and the highest-quality care to our patients. The brand and reputation we’ve worked so hard to build will not change, and now we have an exciting opportunity to further solidify our strong market position,” said David Barrett, M.D. “With the additional resources and expertise we now have through our partnership with Sterling, we’ll be able to continue to invest in our employees and the most advanced technologies and systems to ultimately benefit patients not just in West Michigan but well beyond.”

While GRO has experienced strong organic growth over its 34-year history, the leadership team recognized the opportunity to expand its reach and scale by partnering with a like-minded and growth-oriented investor. GRO will continue to operate as Grand Rapids Ophthalmology, and all of GRO’s shareholders will maintain their current roles and ownership through Great Lakes MSO. The partnership with Sterling allows GRO’s management team to pursue near-term and larger-scale growth opportunities, evolve clinical development to better serve patients, offer additional career development opportunities and job stability to its employees, and form strategic partnerships with healthcare systems, regional employers, and retailers.

“We were looking for a partner that recognized the value of what’s been created to date and would bring the necessary resources to accelerate our expansion,” said Michael Boyle, M.D. “What drew us to Sterling Partners was their management expertise, access to additional capital, a growth-focused vision to leverage the existing infrastructure in order to aggressively expand, and Sterling’s long history of investing and growing healthcare services businesses.” 

Steven Taslitz, Chairman and Co-Founder of Sterling Partners, added, “The consolidating eye care market combined with the aging U.S. population that needs eye care services equates to significant growth potential for GRO. At Sterling, we look to partner with differentiated healthcare services companies that provide accessible and high-quality services in a complex system. We’re excited to work with Dr. Barrett, Dr. Boyle, and their team to take GRO through its next phase of growth.”

Cascade Partners LLC served as the exclusive financial advisor to Grand Rapids Ophthalmology in this transaction. Rajesh U. Kothari, managing director at Cascade Partners said, “GRO’s partnership with Sterling Partners is a great example of the opportunity for physician groups to build their practices and realize the value in what they have created. The $400 billion Physician Practice Management market is experiencing some of the highest levels of investment and acquisition activity within the healthcare services market. The heightened level of activity is being driven by accelerating interest from private equity and strategic partners providing a breadth of growth and liquidity options.”

About Grand Rapids Ophthalmology

Grand Rapids Ophthalmology provides experienced professionals including 11 ophthalmologists and 18 optometrists at locations throughout West Michigan to offer convenient and easy access to professional care. GRO’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of high-quality, state-of-the-art eye care, products, and services with the highest ethical standards and with unrivaled service to patients. GRO further strives to provide its patients, staff, and doctors with an outstanding work environment. For more information, visit: https://www.seeitclear.com/.

About Sterling Partners

Sterling Partners is a private equity firm with a distinct point of view on how to build great companies. Founded in 1983, with over $4 billion of assets under management, Sterling is guided by its stated purpose, INSPIRED GROWTH®, which describes Sterling's approach to investing in differentiated businesses and growing them in inspired ways. Sterling focuses on investing growth capital in middle-market companies in the healthcare services and business services industries. Sterling provides valuable support to the management teams of the companies in which the firm invests through a deep and dedicated team of professionals, including a strong network of outside directors and advisors. The people at Sterling believe in ideas and ideals, in people and in partnerships that drive long-term success. For more information, visit: www.sterlingpartners.com.

About Cascade Partners

Cascade Partners LLC is an investment banking and private investment firm serving entrepreneurs, businesses and investors active in the middle market.  Drawing on the deep management, investment and transaction experience of its principals, Cascade Partners provides the guidance and resources necessary to navigate the complexities of managing growth, acquisitions, divestitures, financing and other strategic initiatives. 

In select situations, Cascade Partners provides mezzanine and equity capital, directly or with its partners, to fund growth financings, acquisitions or change of control transactions involving value-added manufacturing, healthcare and technology enabled business service companies.

Cascade Partners has offices throughout the Midwest United States including Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois.