Headshot of Diya Talwar.

Beauty Dealmakers Bullish on Hair Care M&A

Vestar’s Diya Talwar was recently featured in The Deal offering her views on recent trends in haircare M&A.

Regarding brands now catering to multicultural communities, Diya said “That’s a long term, sustainable tailwind in haircare. We're seeing underrepresented demographics and hair types such as textured hair, curly hair and frizzy hair getting more attention.” The article also noted that Vestar is evaluating investment opportunities in the category.

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Management, Supported by Vestar Capital and Windhover Capital, Recapitalizes Titan Frozen Fruit, a Market-Leading Frozen Berry Processor and Ingredient Provider

NEW YORKJan. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Management and existing shareholders of Titan Frozen Fruit, along with Vestar Capital Partners, a leading U.S. middle market private equity firm, and Windhover Capital, a private equity firm focused on the food, beverage, pet and consumer sectors, jointly announced today that they have agreed to recapitalize Titan, a market-leading, value-added frozen berry processor and ingredient provider to the food and beverage industry. Titan's co-founders will retain a significant stake in the Company and will continue to serve in their respective positions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Santa Maria, CA, Titan is one of the country's leading and fastest-growing frozen berry processors, providing value-added frozen ingredients to a spectrum of industrial, foodservice and retail clients. Titan is at the forefront of innovation in the industry and offers a wide breadth of products that are critical elements to its customers' end products, which include smoothies, juices, ice cream, yogurt and jams.

"Our vision is to continue to build the next generation fruit processing and ingredients company, offering a wide variety of value-added and innovative products to our customers, and our partnership with Vestar and Windhover is the next step in that journey," said Jon Larsen, CEO and Co-Founder of Titan. "They are enthusiastically committed to our business strategy and will provide the financial backing, strategic thinking, industry relationships and track record needed to build on our momentum."

"Titan is a dynamic and well-managed business that has built a terrific service and innovation-driven reputation in the frozen berry and food ingredients sector. We are looking forward to partnering with the Titan team and Vestar to continue to drive supplier partnerships and market leadership through a collaborative and research-oriented approach to adding value," said Chris Harned, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Windhover. "We aspire to grow Titan significantly through internal expansion projects, diversification into related value-added food ingredients, complementary acquisitions and other partnerships."

Dan O'Connell, Founder and CEO of Vestar, said, "In a short period of time, Titan has disrupted the fruit processing and ingredient industry in large part due to the strength of the team. We are excited to partner with Windhover and Jon and the entire team at Titan to build on the Company's strong foundation, which is rooted in deep domain expertise, strong partnerships with growers and suppliers, and a relentless commitment to quality, reliability and innovation. Titan is at an attractive inflection point, and we believe that, in partnership with Windhover, we can help to augment and accelerate management's well-proven growth strategy."

Dorsey & Whitney LLP served as legal counsel and Cascadia Capital acted as financial advisor to Titan. Karr Tuttle Campbell served as legal counsel to Windhover. Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to Vestar.

About Titan Frozen Fruit
Based in Santa Maria, CA and founded in 2013, Titan is a market leader in frozen berry processing. The Company buys berries from a network of large commercial growers in California and Baja California and processes the berries into a variety of pack styles (aseptic and pasteurized purées, purée concentrate, thermal particulate, individual quick frozen and block quick frozen). Titan sells the processed berries to a diversified roster of food and beverage manufacturers, foodservice/QSRs and retail/club stores. For more information on Titan, please visit www.titanfrozen.com.

About Windhover Capital
Windhover Capital is a food, beverage, pet and consumer focused private equity firm based in SeattleMilwaukee and New York. Windhover's strategy is to partner with management teams and owners to build strategic value, improve profitability and accelerate growth. For more information on Windhover, please visit www.windhovercap.com.

360training Acquires AdvanceOnline — Expanding Online Training Footprint with New DOT CMV Courses

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — One of the leading Environmental, Health, and Safety online regulated training providers, 360training, has acquired AdvanceOnline. Through this acquisition, 360training continues to grow their OSHA Online Outreach program and expands their extensive library to include DOT transportation safety training courses, including CMV Driver and CMV Motor Carrier Management.

AdvanceOnline Solutions provides professional and educational environmental health and safety services to corporations, associations, and government agencies involved in the construction, transportation, manufacturing, energy, and utility industries.

AdvanceOnline offers high-quality online training. They were among the first to be accepted by the OSHA Outreach Program for issuing official DOL OSHA course completion cards. With over 120 courses in their catalog, AdvanceOnline is a welcome addition to the 360training family of companies.

Ryan Linders, CMO at 360training, adds, "The acquisition of AdvanceOnline demonstrates our commitment to continue to add high quality programs and brands to 360training. It presents a fantastic opportunity to expand our capabilities and market share in the Environmental, Health & Safety industry vertical and opens the door for us to offer complimentary courses and products, available under the 360training brand, to our corporate customers, Affiliates, and Resellers."

AdvanceOnline History

AdvanceOnline provides exceptional e-Learning and video-based content to help companies comply with federal health and safety regulations, including OSHA Outreach titles like OSHA 10-Hour Construction, OSHA 30-Hour Construction, OSHA 10-Hour General. They are one of a few companies with authorization from OSHA to provide these courses and offer NYC (New York City) Site-Safety Training. Their DOT content was developed in conjunction with the Department of Transportation. "AdvanceOnline aligns perfectly with 360training's goal to provide engaging and comprehensive training programs that prevent workplace injury and enhances public safety." Samantha Montalbano, COO of 360training.

Acquisition by 360training

360training is focused on accelerating growth in support of its mission to provide enhanced training solutions across regulated markets. The acquisition of AdvanceOnline aligns with that mission because the two companies share similar goals.

"The synergy between 360training and AdvanceOnline makes sense. AdvanceOnline was founded to help companies comply with strict health and safety regulations which echoes 360training's mission of enabling a safe environment through regulatory training. By joining together, we're able to enhance workplace safety for communities across the nation."  Tom Anderson, CEO of 360training.

About AdvanceOnline

Headquartered in Houston, TX, AdvanceOnline Solutions provides professional and educational environmental health and safety services to corporations, associations, and government agencies involved in the construction, transportation, manufacturing, energy, and utility industries. With over 75 years of collective experience in safety training development, delivery and consulting, their team develops high-quality, affordable web-based and classroom training for students and corporations to maintain and exceed compliance to government, industry, and company defined safety standards and requirements.

About 360training

Since 1997, 360training.com, Inc. provides individuals and businesses with online regulatory-approved training, facilitating a safe, healthy environment for their communities. We have delivered over 11 million training plans across multiple brands, including 360training, MeditecAgentCampusVanEdOSHAcampusOSHA.comTIPS, and Learn2Serve. Please visit www.360training.com or their social media accounts on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to learn more.

Dr. Praeger's logo.

Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Appoints Steve Polonowski as Chief Customer Officer

Elmwood Park, NJ – December 21, 2022 – Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods (“Dr. Praeger’s” or the “Company”), a leading brand specializing in delicious, nutritious plant-based frozen foods made from simple ingredients, announced today that Steve Polonowski has joined the Company as Chief Customer Officer. Dr. Praeger’s is a portfolio company of Vestar Capital Partners.

“Steve brings an impressive track record of building health-oriented brands through strategic customer partnerships and building strong teams. His diverse experience with better-for-you brands in different categories, customers and channels will be a huge asset for the team at Dr. Praeger’s,” said Dr. Praeger’s CEO Andy Reichgut.

Mr. Polonowski has worked at global, industry leading consumer packaged goods companies including PepsiCo and Glanbia Performance Nutrition, and most recently at smaller brands such as Amazing Grass, Simple Mills and BetterBrand. In his most recent position, he served as President and Chief Commercial Officer at BetterBrand, where he partnered with the founder to build an emerging and disruptive brand in the marketplace. Prior to that, he was the Chief Sales Officer for Simple Mills, another Vestar portfolio company. Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an MBA from Michigan State University.

“I am incredibly excited to join Andy and the Dr. Praeger's team to accelerate growth of this fantastic brand,” said Mr. Polonowski.  “We are uniquely positioned to help consumers eat healthier by simply making veggies into great tasting and convenient food."

About Dr. Praeger’s

For over 25 years, Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods has offered delicious and convenient frozen food options for the whole family. Founded by two heart surgeons determined to make healthy food easily accessible, Dr. Praeger’s is a leader in the all-natural, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and kosher frozen food categories and has a wide range of products including Veggie Burgers, Bowls, Cakes, Puffs and Hash Browns, sustainable Seafood items, kids Littles and more. For more information visit www.drpraegers.com.

About Vestar Capital Partners

Vestar Capital Partners is a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm specializing in management buyouts and growth capital investments. Vestar invests and collaborates with incumbent management teams and private owners to build long-term enterprise value, with a focus on Consumer, Business & Technology Services, and Healthcare. Since inception in 1988, Vestar funds have invested $11 billion in 90 companies – as well as more than 200 add-on acquisitions – with a total value of approximately $52 billion. For more information on Vestar, please visit www.vestarcapital.com.

Headshot Mike Vaupen

Vestar invested in Nox Health to help you get a good night’s sleep

PE Hub
Vestar invested in Nox Health to help you get a good night’s sleep
The investment fits Vestar’s strategy of improving health outcomes, lowering costs and enhancing patient experience.
By Aaron Weitzman
Published December 15, 2022


Vestar Capital Partners recently made a significant minority strategic growth investment in Nox Health, a one-stop, holistic solution helping to identify, address and resolve sleep issues across the globe.

PE Hub spoke with Michael Vaupen, managing director at the New York-based firm to talk about what enticed Vestar to the Atlanta-based sleep health company, how the deal making process went and the plans to grow and scale the asset.

Vaupen said that Vestar was attracted to Nox for several reasons, with the first being the market opportunity, as sleep health is a “large and substantially underserved market with durable growth drivers.”

“Second, Nox’s solutions are well-positioned against this attractive market backdrop,” he said. “The company has built a differentiated portfolio of proprietary medical device IP, advanced software and analytics, and technology-enabled care management solutions which support the delivery of sleep care across the continuum of providers, payers and patient populations.”

The investment is well-aligned to Vestar’s thematic focus of solutions that improve health outcomes, lower costs and enhance patient experience, according to Vaupen.

The firm also sees many tailwinds that will help this investment.

“Aging demographics, increasing awareness of sleep health and an ongoing shift towards home-based testing will drive steady growth and demand for sleep diagnostics globally,” said Vaupen. “In addition, there is a growing body of clinical evidence strongly linking poor sleep health with chronic disease conditions, including hypertension and diabetes. As US healthcare continues to shift towards value-based care, we believe plan sponsors and at-risk providers will continue to seek ways to lower costs and improve outcomes within their managed populations – sleep care is playing an increasingly important role.”

He also added that historically, sleep disorders have been significantly underdiagnosed and therapy compliance rates have been low due to a fragmented and uncoordinated patient experience in sleep care.

“Nox’s patient-centric approach to comprehensive sleep care management, leveraging virtual care and home testing technology, results in a more seamless patient experience and leads to demonstrably better health outcomes and lower costs,” he said.

He noted that the Nox management team has built a “solid foundational platform that has delivered consistent and impressive growth through the years,” and that the capital from Vestar will help accelerate a number of organic growth initiatives.

“Those include development of the company’s sleep diagnostic devices and technology, as well as commercial team expansion to drive further adoption of Nox’s value-based care management services within employers and health plans,” explained Vaupen. “We also see an opportunity to augment Nox’s solution offering through strategic acquisitions.”

Despite the challenging and choppy deal environment this year, Vaupen said that the firm continued to “pick spots and focus on opportunities where we can leverage Vestar’s deep network, relationships and prior investment experience to bring differentiated value-add to a growth thesis.”

“Nox met many of those characteristics which allowed us to ‘lean into’ getting a deal done,” he said.

Logo for Stratus.

Stratus Acquires San Antonio-based Comet Signs

CLEVELAND--(BUSINESS WIRE)--December 07, 2022-- Stratus, the leading facilities services and brand implementation services firm, today announced the acquisition of Comet Signs, based in San Antonio, Texas. The combined organization now consists of over 1,100 employees throughout the United States.

With the acquisition of Comet Signs, Stratus will accelerate its growth in the Southwest and Western United States, leveraging Comet's substantial presence in key Texas areas including Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Tyler. Comet's expanded production capabilities and self-perform installation fleet will begin to serve Stratus' roster of blue-chip, nationwide brands in the region, and will help the company grow its overall business. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The Comet acquisition represents Stratus' third major acquisition since late 2019.

"Our teams immediately melded with each other -- we have a shared value system and strong beliefs in nurturing customer relationships and growth over time," noted Tim Eippert, CEO, Stratus. "Comet's reputation is stellar, and they've been careful and purposeful about growth, including hiring practices and employee satisfaction and retention."

Founded in 1958, Comet Signs, has expanded over time through organic growth and a series of mergers and acquisitions, and has become known as a leading exterior branding resource in the region. The company occupies a 180,000 square foot state-of-the-art production facility at its San Antonio headquarters, with an additional 70,000+ square feet of operations in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Tyler, Texas.

"When Tim and I were getting to know each other, I could immediately picture myself and my team working side-by-side with Stratus," said Pete Sitterle, CEO, Comet Signs. "At Comet, we have grown by taking very good care of our customers. Tim and Stratus share that approach, the customer is always at the center of their minds. That's why this is such a great fit. We look forward to our customers taking advantage of everything Stratus has to offer, and we look forward to personally servicing Stratus' customers all across Texas."

Headquartered in Mentor, Ohio, Stratus has operations centers in Illinois, Ohio, Florida and New Jersey, and production facilities in Illinois and South Carolina. Stratus is a portfolio company of Vestar Capital Partners.

About Stratus

Stratus is a leading brand implementation and facilities services company offering signage solutions, energy services, repair and maintenance programs, and refresh and remodel capabilities across 50 states and 24 countries. With more than 50,000 projects completed annually, the Company provides versatile solutions for some of the world's largest and most recognized brands. Stratus is a portfolio company of Vestar Capital Partners. For more information, please visit www.stratusunlimited.com.

Logo for PetHonesty.

'Braced for growth': How Austin startup Pet Honesty has become a national brand

'Braced for growth': How Austin startup Pet Honesty has become a national brand
Austin American Statesman
By Lori Hawkins
Published September 2022

Four years ago, entrepreneurs Ben and Camille Arneberg created their company, Pet Honesty, as an e-commerce outlet to sell natural pet supplements.

The Austin-based startup grew by selling its pet vitamins on its website as well as on sites including Amazon.com and Chewy.com. During the coronavirus pandemic, a sales boost came from people adopting pets and spending more time at home with them. Now the company is taking a big leap, with a new CEO, a new downtown Austin headquarters and a major launch into its first brick-and-mortar retail venture by entering 1,500 Petco locations nationwide.

"Pet Honesty has built a loyal and growing online following of health-conscious pet parents who seek products made with natural ingredients," said CEO Richard Greenberg. "There has been interest from retailers for the last couple years, and the company wanted to be very patient. Petco was the perfect fit."

'Large growth opportunity'

Greenberg said company research has found that 29% of pets are given supplements. "There remains a large growth opportunity," he said. "We have a pretty diverse customer base," he said. "It's that proactive pet parent. Often times they're giving their children a multivitamin, they might be taking a supplement themselves. They're looking to treat their four-legged children the same as they treat their two-legged children."

The company has high-profile displays and interactive surveys with QR codes at Petco stores to help pet owners and employees determine the most suitable supplements, Greenberg said.

Pet Honesty's supplements include its Multivitamin 10-in-1, which the company says supports overall health in adult dogs, as well as a range of supplements that target joint, immune, digestive and skin health for both cats and dogs. The company does not disclose where its supplements are produced, but Greenberg said they are made in the United States.

Retail prices for a jar of 90 supplements sold online and in stores begin at $26.99, with special formulations and maximum strengths ranging between $28.99 to $40.99. One jar would typically supply a small to medium dog for three months, according to the company.

Greenberg joined the company this year following a majority investment in Pet Honesty by New York-based private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Vestar Capital Partners. has a background in investing in the pet food industry and consumer brands. The firm previously owned Big Heart Pet Brands, whose products include Meow Mix, Milk-Bone and Natural Balance. Vestar's current investments include Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods, a manufacturer of plant-based foods; Simple Mills, a organic cracker, cookie and baking mix brand, and Presence Marketing, a national sales broker that represents natural and organic food, beverage and personal care brands.

Pet Honesty founder Ben Arneberg will continue to serve as a director on the company's board, and he and his family will retain their "significant investment" in the company, Vestar said. "We have been fortunate to find the right partner in Vestar, which remains committed to our business strategy and will help provide the financial backing, indust1y relationships and catego1y expertise needed to build on our momentum," Areberg said.

Greenberg has spent the past two decades as a consumer product goods executive, most recently servicing as chief commercial officer of Sovos, which had an initial public offering in fall of 2021. Sovos' brands include Rao's Homemade, Noosa Yoghurt, Birch Benders and Michael Angelo's.

'The company is growing'

Greenberg said Pet Honesty will be looking for additional brick-and-mortar retail opportunities.

As the 40-person company is ramping up for this new wave of growth, it has moved into a new headquarters in downtown Austin at 211 E. Seventh St. "The size of our staff has doubled in the last 12 months," Greenberg said." The company is growing and is really braced for growth as we launch into retail." The downtown move is intended to boost company culture. "We love the energy and vibe of downtown that it provides," Greenberg said. "We are a high energy, passionate company and building our culture is a big part of building momentum for the company."