Dean Chaloupka, president of Floral Plant Growers, LLC (FPG), Denmark, Wis., announced last week that the company’s senior management team has joined with Blue Point Capital Partners in a recapitalization of the company. Prior to the transaction, FPG had been owned by Sentinel Capital Partners. Blue Point and FPG management provided the equity for the transaction with debt financing provided by Merrill Lynch Capital and Golub & Associates.
“The new capital structure will allow FPG to pursue a growth strategy in both our current markets as well as contiguous or complementary markets,” said Chaloupka. “We look forward to working with Blue Point and to the many opportunities this new relationship offers. We benefited from the relationship with our previous owners, and we expect the same benefits from this owner.”
FPG manages more than 70 acres of indoor production capacity in five highly automated greenhouses in Wisconsin, Maryland, Delaware, Iowa and Indiana as well as 10 acres of outdoor production capacity. Natural Beauty Growers is the company’s Midwest-based operation with the Floral Plant Growers division providing service to the Mid-Atlantic market. Both regions produce products under the Natural Beauty brand name. The multi-region structure employed by FPG provides the company a competitive advantage by allowing for efficient distribution over a large geographical footprint as well as specialization and cooperation between facilities.
“We are excited about partnering with FPG management to take advantage of the growth opportunities available to the company,” said John Kirby, managing partner of Blue Point’s Cleveland office. “This transaction fits very well with Blue Point’s strategy of partnering with exceptional management teams to grow market-leading businesses.”
Though there will be some changes, as with any business purchase, Chaloupka guarantees that, “the name will stay the same, the company itself will stay the same and the management people involved with it. We see opportunity in the industry to expand the business where we see some. From all outward appearances, the only change at the company will be new owners, including staff investment.”
Blue Point, with offices in Seattle, Charlotte and Cleveland, is one of the largest resident private equity firms in each of its target markets and principally focuses on investments in manufacturing, distribution and service businesses that address industrial and consumer markets. Blue Point has extensive experience in identifying, evaluating and successfully completing a variety of private equity investment transactions, including management buyouts, corporate divestitures, recapitalizations and industry consolidations. The principals of Blue Point have completed more than 60 investments with a total invested value of more than $500 million.
Along with working with a new company, Chaloupka added that, “Some of the managers at FPG now have a stake in the company. Several senior managers have invested in the company. It is not just one private equity firm selling to another the management helped lead this process. We were fully engaged in the process of selling up to and involved in investing our own money.”
Chaloupka feels that with some of the managers having a personal stake in the company they will be more aggressive about seeking out new business opportunities for the company. Their partners want to make that happen as well.
”We’ve been a profitable organization, and they’re looking for a good management team with a good, proven record of profitability where there are good growth opportunities. They do believe that this industry is, and can be in the future, a good one to be an owner in. They know that it won’t be any good for them to be in a growth industry if the management team in place is not knowledgeable and headed in the right direction, finalized Chaloupka.
For more information on Floral Plant Growers see the May 2004 issue of GPN and the upcoming November issue to hear all about FPG’s Living Pleasures merchandising program.