TowerBrook Capital Partners L.P. announced today, May 29, that it has engaged former Formica Corp. president and CEO Frank A. Riddick III to advise it on potential investments in the building materials industry.

"(Riddick) has a strong financial background in addition to an outstanding track record as an operator and has shown an ability to drive growth even in difficult times," TowerBrook managing director Robin Esterson said. "We are confident that his industry experience will prove invaluable to TowerBrook as we explore opportunities within the building products and distribution areas."

During an interview with ProSales, Riddick said he has looked at distributors and lumberyards as well as product manufacturers. "We've actually looked hard at flooring distribution," he said. "I wouldn't rule out something akin to [Dallas-based Builders FirstSource] or of that nature. There are some models out there in terms of sourcing products and raising the product line."

As for product manufacturers, Riddick said: "Among the areas looking interesting are windows and doors, flooring, countertops (post laminate to engineered stone and granite), and hardware businesses." Plywood isn't on his list of candidates, he said.

Aside from his work at Formica, Riddick was president and CEO of Armstrong World Industries and help positions at General Motors Corp., Merrill Lynch & Co., and FMC Corp. He lives in Dallas.

Capital Partners L.P. is a private equity firm with $2.5 billion under management. It says it "primarily pursues control-oriented private equity investments in large and middle market companies, partnering with highly capable management teams, often in situations characterized by complexity." According to its Web site, TowerBrook's investment portfolio includes holdings as varied as the BevMo! beverage and spirits retailer, Jimmy Choo shoes and the St. Louis Blues hockey team.

Why invest in building materials given the current downturn? "If you take a long-term view, the demographics are strong," Riddick replied. "There are good businesses out there that -- given what's happened in the industry, may be available. Now is a good time if you have a positive, long-term view about the home building industry."

Riddick said TowerBrook has given him no limit on investment opportunities but rather has told him "There's always money available for a good deal." He can be reached at 212-699-2204 or at [email protected].