Creative Edge Master Shop, which was founded by Jim Belilove 30 years ago, has announced a transition of ownership to a chosen buyer, Weaton Capital, which will continue Belilove’s legacy and retain operations in Fairfield, Iowa. The sale includes two other divisions of Creative Edge (ToolKeepers and Resilient Flooring) with Belilove remaining as a principal for four years.
“Nate Weaton is a born-and-bred Iowan and Fairfield resident with deep roots in this community,” says Belilove. “He plans to be involved in daily operations at our factory. While provided the investment capital, he’s not an arms-length investor. Rather, he’s a ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ investor.”
Weaton says that his company’s guiding principle is to protect and value the founder’s legacy when they invest in a company. “We hung out our shingle because we want to be local, we want to invest in Iowa businesses,” he says.
Back in 1988, abrasive-waterjet technology was relatively unknown, used for cutting frozen vegetables and windshields, its artistic potential untapped. Creative Edge pioneered the use of waterjet-technology to create intricate, Renaissance-quality designs for stone and tile flooring. Today Creative Edge is known worldwide for creating more than 10,000 floors and wall murals in hotel lobbies, airports, children’s hospitals, churches, and government buildings. Some CEMS high profile, award-winning projects include the Astronaut Memorial at Kennedy Space Center, visitor’s center at West Point and the entryway to Disney World in Florida. Recent award-winning projects include the marble front lobby medallion at the Bellagio Las Vegas; the steel-and-granite “Spotlight on Broadway” sidewalk in Times Square; and the 70,000-square-foot terrazzo floor at Pittsburgh International Airport.
To be noted, Creative Edge is one of the few Iowa companies that exports a made-in-the USA product to other countries, contributing to both the national and local economies. “People often think this level of artistry could only be created overseas with cheaper labor,” says Belilove. “But Creative Edge installations are actually a perfect combination of American manufacturing and American design.”
Nate Weaton of Weaton Capital feels his new association with CEMS is a perfect fit, like “inserting a square peg in a square hole.” Weaton brings a wealth of relevant experience to Creative Edge, with a background of both entrepreneurial ventures and large public-company experiences. “You keep doing what you’re doing,” he says. “You build on the really great thing, which in the case of CEMS, are beautiful installations that Jim has created globally. This has impact, and I wouldn’t think of changing the brand.”
Belilove laughs when he shares the way he pictures the transaction. “I was driving the stagecoach, and then Nate Weaton climbed aboard,” he says. “We came to an agreement, and without stopping it or changing how Creative Edge operates, he will now have the reins. It’s the same stagecoach and the same direction. I’m now the seasoned sidekick, sitting shotgun.”