U.S. Silica Holdings announces deal for facilities

FREDERICK, Md. — U.S. Silica Holdings Inc. recently announced two major deals.

The company announced a definitive agreement to acquire EP Minerals for $750 million in cash. It also has signed an agreement to sell three transloads in the Permian, Eagle Ford and Appalachian Basins to CIG Logistics for $75 million in cash.

EP Minerals — with sales of over $200 million — is a global producer of engineered materials derived from industrial minerals including diatomaceous earth, clay and perlite.

“EP Minerals checks all of the boxes in terms of what we’ve been looking for in an attractive, adjacent business to our (Industrial and Specialty Products) segment,” said Bryan Shinn, U.S. Silica president and chief executive officer. “It is a rare find with an attractive market structure and has industry-leading margins with exciting opportunities to grow sales.

EP Minerals’ unique industrial minerals are used as filter aids, absorbents and functional additives for a variety of industries including food and beverage, biofuels, recreational water, oil and gas, farm and home, landscape, sports turf, paint, plastics, and insecticides. The company’s facilities are in Nevada, Oregon, Nebraska, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.

The transaction is expected to be accretive in the fourth quarter of 2018 and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.

In addition, U.S. Silica’s agreement to sell three transloads to CIG Logistics was expected to close by the end of this past March, pending financing.

The three facilities are near Odessa, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; and Benwood, W.Va. They comprise approximately 70,000 tons of storage capacity. As part of the agreement, U.S. Silica will continue to service customer needs through the transloads, which CIG will now own and operate.

U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc., a member of the Russell 2000, is a leading producer of commercial silica used in the oil and gas industry, and in a wide range of industrial applications.

D’Vinci partners with reading advocacy group

After more than 50 years of success with print book-focused reading programs, Reading is Fundamental has partnered with d’Vinci Interactive to create a portal of online resources to foster a love of reading and literacy.

The flagship product, Literacy Central, features more than 6,000 literacy resources for educators and parents to use with pre-kindergarten, elementary and middle school students.

Literacy Central won the 2018 Parents’ Choice Silver Award. It includes activities, games, interactive reading passages, lesson plans, and videos paired with classic and popular books — all available for free.

Users can search by theme, grade level or keyword to find their favorite authors and illustrators and then download free resources designed specifically for that book.

Since the launch of Literacy Central six months ago, more than 1,000 educators and parents have created curriculum folders on the site.

Features include a Puzzle Creator Tool, interactive calendars and a mobile app to connect educators with thousands of free resources, just by scanning a book’s barcode. d’Vinci also created tools for teachers and parents to track a student’s reading progress.

This spring, RIF and d’Vinci will launch Literacy Tracker, a tool that will allow teachers and parents to assess their student/child’s reading level, receive recommendations for titles, and watch their improvement throughout the school year. Another new feature will be a RIF Reading Log App, a mobile app that will allow students and parents to keep track of the time they spend reading books and the pages read.

Reading Is Fundamental delivers free books and literacy resources to children and families in underserved communities in the United States. As the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit, RIF has placed 412 million books in the hands of more than 40 million children since it was established in 1966. 

D’Vinci Interactive, based in Hagerstown, Md., features a team of learning specialists, creative designers and application developers who collaborate with clients to deliver engaging learning solutions.

D’Vinci also can expand its capabilities and capacity by partnering with its parent company, JPL, a Pennsylvania-based creative marketing agency.

Smith Elliott Kearns earns highest rating in peer review

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Smith Elliott Kearns & Co. LLC was recently notified by the peer review committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants that it has successfully completed an independent quality review of its accounting and auditing practice.

The quality review was conducted by the national firm of Cherry Bekaert LLP under guidelines established by the AICPA. The reviewers made an independent assessment of the firm’s quality control policies and procedures, and inspected the working papers and reports on a representative sample of accounting and auditing engagements.

Smith Elliott Kearns received the highest rating possible on its peer review, which puts the firm in an extremely elite group of CPA firms, according to the AICPA. A copy of the peer review report is available at sek.com.

The firm has offices in Hagerstown, Md., and Chambersburg, Pa.

Waynesboro company marketing posture-enhancing backpack

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Active Life Solutions has partnered with a Swedish company to bring a posture-enhancing backback to the United States.

The Posture Vertical Backpack, billed as the world’s first posture-enhancing backpack, was a successful 2017 Kickstarter campaign, according to a news release from Active Life.

Active Life Solutions, based in Waynesboro, Pa., has partnered with Swedish Posture to introduce American consumers to the product.

The designing company, Swedish Posture, is based in Stockholm. It distributes posture-correcting devices, with an emphasis on activating and strengthening core muscles as opposed to braces that hold consumers in place.

The company also has developed products that contribute to improved posture, active sitting, and low intensity training. Its products work as routine reminders that stimulate muscle tissue, strengthening muscles over time and improving overall posture.

Active Life Solutions, a company based in e-commerce, aims to import products from around the world and continues to experience sales growth as new products are introduced on its website, ActiveLifeUSA.com.

The company consists of a team of physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, personal trainers, pharmacists, and pharmacologists that thoroughly evaluate, test and select innovative products from around the world.

Shepherd developing new insurance concentration

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Shepherd University’s College of Business hosted a risk management and insurance roundtable discussion recently to discuss with insurance professionals how a new RMI concentration can help train insurance industry workers.

Participants included many regional experts and an international perspective from Ed Beimer, managing director of Hastings Direct, a United Kingdom company.

With the input from the insurance industry, Shepherd is developing the RMI concentration at the suggestion of and with the support from Farmers and Mechanics Insurance Companies, which is headquartered in Martinsburg. W.Va., to help address the projected need for insurance professionals.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Jacobson Group, an insurance recruiting watchdog, estimate potentially 400,000 positions will go unfilled.

Millennials are not considering going into the insurance field, a trend Shepherd’s College of Business hopes to reverse, according to a news release.