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Chinese firm acquires Merrillville's DirectBuy

The DirectBuy customer call center in Merrillville is shown last year. CSG Generation, an affiliate of a Chinese equity firm, acquired the company, one of the few national brands to emerge from Northwest Indiana. 

A Chinese private equity firm reached an agreement to acquire Merrillville-based DirectBuy, a 40-year-old buying club that was one of the few national brands ever to emerge from Northwest Indiana.

CSC Generation won a Delaware court's approval to purchase DirectBuy out of bankruptcy in a deal valued at up to $950,000 in cash and assumed liabilities. DirectBuy has about 200,000 members nationwide who pay membership fees to buy home goods and other product at wholesale prices.

“This is really great news for DirectBuy. Three years ago, we set out on a mission to transform DirectBuy into a contemporary, member-focused organization that is easy to do business with and this sale is a testament to the hard work our teams have made in bringing us across the finish line,” DirectBuy CEO Mike Bornhorst said.

CSC Generation will offer jobs to at least 417 DirectBuy employees in the United States and Canada, according to a declaration Bornhorst filed with a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. 

DirectBuy said in a statement it would continue to be headquartered in Merrillville, with more than 340 local employees working in member services, merchandising, vendor support and other business support services. DirectBuy employed around 400 at its corporate headquarters on Broadway late last year. 

CSC Generation, which is helmed by CEO Justin Yoshimura, also has invested in other retail and business-to-business firms. It wants to diversify into home furnishings and home improvement through the acquisition, according to DirectBuy.

Highland resident Jim Gagan founded DirectBuy in 1971, and sold it to private equity firm Trivest Partners in 2007. It faced a slew of lawsuits for high-pressure sales practices, but new leadership came in and tried to reinvent it as an online retailer.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.