Jeff Helminski of Auxo Investment Partners was sitting in his downtown Grand Rapids office in May 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, when his phone rang with a cold call from a prospective investment partner. Little did Helminski know when he answered the call that the conversation he was about to have would ultimately lead to a transformative moment for the private equity firm Auxo.

Grand Rapids Business Journal will recognize those people and projects that made news in 2022 at its annual Newsmakers of the Year breakfast from 7:30-9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

Auxo Investment Partners said it completed a successful exit from its investment in M/G Transport Services through a sale to Maritime Partners, both based in Louisiana. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. “This is an ideal outcome for all parties. Maritime Partners gets a great business with a strong management team, M/G’s management team gets a terrific new owner — an important consideration for us — and we at Auxo deliver an incredible return for our investors,” said Jeff Helminski, managing partner at Auxo.

Auxo Investment Partners’ acquisition of a West Michigan manufacturer has both in-state and national growth opportunities for the Grand Rapids private equity firm. Auxo’s deal for Cascade Township–based Tack Electronics Inc. represents more investment potential for the Michigan Opportunity Fund, a $100 million fund led by Auxo executives and several prominent figures in the state’s business community that aims to invest in and grow Michigan-based companies.

The $100 million private equity fund created to invest in Michigan-based companies has completed its fundraising and now turns its attention to deploying the capital over the next few years. The Grand Rapids-based Auxo Michigan Opportunity Fund I LLC, launched in February 2021 with the backing of Doug and Maria DeVos’ family office, netted the $100 million from 76 investors, according to a federal regulatory filing. “The Michigan Opportunity Fund is all about helping Michigan-based businesses thrive and grow,” Doug DeVos, co-chairman of Ada-based Amway Corp., said in a statement to MiBiz. “We have a great group of Michigan-based investors who care deeply about the state and desire to see Michigan businesses prosper. We believe this fund is a unique opportunity for various Michigan-based industries, some seeking to grow and others looking to transition ownership.”

Maritime Partners, a maritime leasing and financing services company, has purchased M/G Transport Services from Auxo Investment Partners. M/G offers marine transportation services in the lower Mississippi River area and along the west canal to Houston, Texas. With over 300 dry cargo barges, M/G focuses on the movement of petroleum coke, sugar, barite and other materials. M/G will continue to operate under the M/G brand as a standalone entity and the members of the management team will continue in their current roles.