Creative Edge Master Shop in Fairfield has a new owner.
Company CEO Jim Belilove announced he has sold the business to Weaton Capital, which will continue operating the manufacturing plant famous for its waterjet cutting technology. The sale includes two other divisions of Creative Edge, ToolKeepers and Resilient Flooring.
The sale took effect Oct. 1. Belilove announced the sale during the Manufacturers Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday at the Fairfield Golf and Country Club. He said everything from the name, trademark and products will remain the same.
“They’re also going to keep me,” Belilove said to a round of laughs.
As part of the purchase agreement, Belilove will remain involved as a principal in the company for four years.
“All the products are growing fairly nicely, so our plan is to do the same thing, only more of it,” he said.
Belilove explained why he chose to sell Creative Edge to Weaton Capital, owned by Nate Weaton.
“Nate Weaton is a born-and-bred Iowan and Fairfield resident with deep roots in this community,” said Belilove. “He plans to be involved in daily operations at our factory in Fairfield. Although he provided the investment capital through his company, he’s not an arm’s length investor. He’s a roll-up-your-sleeves investor.”
Weaton said his guiding principle is to protect and value the founder’s legacy when he invests in a company.
“We hung out our shingle because we want to be local, and we want to invest in Iowa businesses,” he said.
Josh Laraby, executive director of Fairfield Economic Development Association – whose mission is to facilitate economic growth in Fairfield by supporting existing Fairfield businesses and recruiting new ones – calls it “a perfect marriage between a local business founder and a local entrepreneurial investor.”
Creative Edge is a world-renowned company known for its pioneering use of abrasive waterjet cutting to create intricate designs in stone and tile. It has created more than 10,000 floors and wall murals in hotel lobbies, airports, churches and government buildings around the world.
A few of the company’s high-profile projects include the Astronaut Memorial at Kennedy Space Center, the visitor’s center at West Point Military Academy and the entryway to Disney World in Florida. Three recent projects that won national industry awards were the marble medallion in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas; the steel and granite spotlight on the Broadway sidewalk installation in Times Square, New York City; and the 69,000-square-foot decorative terrazzo floor at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
Creative Edge has done many projects right here in Fairfield, too. Local examples of the company’s work include the lobby floors of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, the Argiro Student Center at Maharishi University of Management, First National Bank, Iowa State Bank, Libertyville Savings Bank, the Jefferson County Veterans’ Monument and new storefront signage as part of the recent renovation of the town square.
Laraby said Creative Edge has been an iconic Fairfield employer. Many of Belilove’s 40 employees have been with him for 20 years or more. Sixteen people have retired after spending their entire careers with Creative Edge.
“That’s extremely rare for a company to retain and sustain its employees like that,” Laraby said.
Belilove and his wife, Ginger, have become global ambassadors for Fairfield through their business travels. Wherever they go, they tell people how much Fairfield means to them.
“Ginger and I have grown our business in Fairfield for 30 years because we love it here,” Belilove said. “And I’m always proud to say that our business is based in Fairfield. It’s a great place to live and work from.”
Belilove noted that Iowa is now rated the best state in the country on a number of factors such as business opportunity, education, and quality of life, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best States Rankings.”
As Belilove neared retirement, he began to wonder what would happen to the business. Above all, he wanted a transition partner who would keep the plant local.
“I knew I wanted a buyer who considers being located in the state of Iowa and the city of Fairfield to be a good thing, not just something you have to put up with, or somewhere you don’t really want to be,” he said.
Belilove looked for a buyer who met those qualifications, but came up empty.
“My wife joked that I would still be working here until I reached 100,” he recalled.
That’s when Nate Weaton entered the picture. Weaton had recently established Weaton Capital as founder and partner. He was just the kind of buyer Belilove was looking for. Weaton purchased Creative Edge, and said the company is a perfect fit, like “inserting a square peg in a square hole.”
Weaton brings a wealth of relevant experience to the Creative Edge purchase agreement. His career has a solid balance of entrepreneurial ventures and large public-company experiences. Most recently, he was with Dover Corporation serving as vice president and general manager of its Hill Phoenix Specialty Products Division in Keosauqua, its Case Division in Richmond, Virginia, and ended his career with Dover Refrigeration and Food Equipment as senior vice president of business development.
In 2017, Weaton left Dover and made the decision to work in Fairfield, which he has called home for the past 20 years. He has raised a family of five children here, with his youngest in seventh grade. His wife, Lori Schaefer-Weaton, is president of Agri-Industrial Plastics in Fairfield. He serves on the board of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and is active in organizations such as Elevate Iowa and Elevate Manufacturing.