Wabtec’s Hepler Jumps To MSA Safety


PHILADELPHIA, PA–MSA Safety Inc. has snapped up Wabtec Corp.’s director of corporate development as the Cranberry-based developer and supplier of safety products accelerates acquisitions. Christopher Hepler, responsible for the rail manufacturer’s global M&A activities since 2015, is now MSA’s executive director of corporate development.

“It’s great to have a person of Chris’ caliber on board,” Krause said. “He’s focusing on building out a pipeline for M&A and processes around that function.”

MSA (NYSE:MSA) closed its $33 million acquisition of Silicon Valley-based Sierra Monitor Corp on Monday. CEO Nishan Vartanian and Krause were in California to spend the day with the team.

“There’s a lot of excitement around the company and we have a robust integration plan we’re rolling out now,” Krause said.

The deal is the latest in a series of buys that started about six years ago.“Our strategy is built around profitable growth and that can come from organic R&D but also inorganic activities,” Krause said. “We’ve got the financial flexibility and are positioned really well to continue to grow inorganically. What Chris will do is aid those efforts.”

MSA has more than 40 international locations with manufacturing operations Europe, Asia and Latin America as well as the U.S. Revenue was $1.4 billion in 2018, about half of which came from outside North America.

The acquisition plan is focused on MSA’s core products, in the U.S. and abroad.

“What’s interesting about safety is one of the fastest growing sections is in fall protection and it’s our smallest market position,” Krause said. “We’re investing organically and have launched a lot of products, but we’re also looking inorganically.”

MSA connected with Hepler after launching an extensive search to find someone to lead the charge. Wabtec (NYSE:WAB) notched 10 transactions since early 2015.

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David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.