Chicago - November 10, 2016
Frontenac Company LLC, a Chicago-based private equity firm, today announced that it has completed the sale of Mercer Foods LLC, a leading provider of natural and organic freeze dried fruits, vegetables, and other foods, to Graham Partners. This marks the third successful enterprise sale by Frontenac in the last five quarters. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
A family business, founded in 1980, Mercer is headquartered in Modesto, California. Frontenac, in partnership with the founding family and Lake Pacific Partners, led a recapitalization of the Company in 2011 and helped develop and support an aggressive growth plan that resulted in the Company doubling in size. Highlights include investments in the leadership team, expansion of production capacity, and introduction of new capabilities and new products, all of which supported a clear strategic focus on providing world-class customers with clean label, food ingredients and better-for-you snack foods.
“From our very first introduction and continuing through the acquisition and ownership process, the Frontenac team has shown nothing but professionalism, integrity, and a genuine desire to help,” said David Noland, CEO of Mercer and second generation owner. Pam Mercer Denny added, “In order to achieve the organic growth objectives we had, we wanted a partner that would support continued investment in the business - financial and human capital investments - and would provide strategic perspective from experience not only in the food industry but also from working with growth-oriented family businesses. Frontenac has been a trusted advisor, and collaborative partner.”
“We are delighted with our successful partnership with Mercer and its entire management team,” said Betsy Williamson, Principal of Frontenac. “Our investment thesis for Mercer was that freeze-drying technology is uniquely positioned to deliver clean label products to a consumer base increasingly focused on healthy, natural ingredients and snacks. The consumer adoption of freeze-dried ingredients has exceeded our expectations, and the investments we made in the business position Mercer very well for years to come.”
“Partnering with longstanding, family held businesses is a core pillar of our strategy and we could not be more pleased with the collective accomplishments in this investment and the relationships formed with the Mercer team,” Walter Florence, Managing Partner of Frontenac added. “Mercer is a terrific business that has not only grown bigger, but also stronger and more diversified under our ownership. We are pleased to have worked with the team to achieve the scale, success and customer satisfaction we have delivered together. We are also happy to have found a quality new investor who saw the value in the team and the business. We are confident Mercer will continue to innovate and drive growth under new ownership.”
Mercer was represented in the transaction by Harris Williams & Co. and Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
About Mercer Foods
Mercer Foods is a leading producer of natural and organic freeze dried fruits, vegetables, and other foods and ingredients. The company was founded in 1980 by freeze dried industry pioneer Jim Mercer, holder of many different patents in food technology. From its beginnings in the technology center of Palo Alto, California, the company has grown and expanded significantly at its current home in the food industry hub of Modesto, California. Mercer Foods is California-based and also globally-connected, sourcing hundreds of different foods and crops both nearby in the fields of California and also worldwide. With its roots in innovation and this diverse source of supply, Mercer Foods creates the highest quality freeze dried foods and ingredients, which the company provides to hundreds of food manufacturers and other customers. For more information, visit www.mercerfoods.com.
Frontenac is a leading private equity firm, based in Chicago. The firm focuses on investing in lower middle market buyout transactions in the food, industrial, and services industries. Frontenac works in partnership with proven operating leaders, through our executive-centric approach called CEO1ST, to identify, acquire, and build market leading companies through transformational acquisitions and operational excellence. The firm has built a leading franchise working with over 225 owners of mid-sized businesses, almost always families or founders, as they address complex transition issues of liquidity, management enhancement, and growth planning. For more information, please visit www.frontenac.com.