IRI and NPD Rebrand as Circana, the Leading Advisor on the Complexity of Consumer Behavior

[CHICAGO] – March 7, 2023 – Following their merger in August 2022, Information Resources, Inc. ("IRI") and The NPD Group ("NPD") today unveiled a new combined company name and brand identity: Circana.

Circana™ is the leading advisor on the complexity of consumer behavior. Through unparalleled technology, advanced analytics, cross-industry data and deep expertise, Circana provides clarity that helps clients take action and unlock business growth.

“We are proud to begin this new chapter together as Circana, a name that conveys our 360-degree, full-circle understanding of the consumer and market, and our unique ability to bring clients a complete view of the consumer, store and wallet,” said Kirk Perry, president and chief executive officer, Circana (formerly IRI® and NPD®). “In today’s dynamic global retail and media environment, our value proposition has never been stronger. Circana is undeniably best positioned to advise the world’s leading brands and retailers across almost every industry on how to identify opportunity, ignite innovation and grow well into the future.”

Leveraging the vast data and expertise of its heritage firms, Circana tracks millions of products spanning 2,000+ categories across 500,000+ stores in 20 countries, with insights powered by the industry’s most advanced technology platform, Liquid Data®. Today, Circana advises almost 7,000 brands and retailers worldwide.

Tod Johnson, chairman of Circana’s board of directors, added, “The combination of IRI and NPD created a category of one. In the months since the merger, we have demonstrated — for our clients and for our team — the immense value of bringing our firms together. Moving forward with a unified name and brand signifies that Circana is committed to delivering on the full value of our powerful combination for all of our stakeholders, with a relentless focus on innovation and growth.” The Circana brand was created in partnership with global brand consulting firm Landor & Fitch.

Logo for Simple Mills.

Fast Company's "The Most Innovative Companies in Food of 2023"


Explore the full 2023 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 540 organizations that are reshaping industries and culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact across 54 categories, including advertisingbeautydesign, and more.

Many of this year’s most innovative companies in food focused on products and packaging that help the planet. Twenty-nine-year-old tea company Tazo overhauled its entire supply chain to sell tea from farms that use regenerative farming practices. Similarly, Forever Oceans is farming fish in the middle of the ocean to protect coastal environments using tech it developed to process data from dozens of remote farm locations.

Spero Foods is using new ingredients to replace pantry staples. The company, which started making cheese from sunflower seeds and other vegan staples, launched an egg substitute made from seven natural ingredients including pumpkin seeds. Cooking oil company Zero Acre Farms launched a new fermented oil made through a process that has a 90% smaller environmental footprint than traditional vegetable oil. Other companies like Simple Mills have sought to use unloved, yet vital, ingredients, such as buckwheat, which helps farmers prevent the spread of weeds.

Other firms have reduced their environmental footprint by changing their packaging. Graphic Packaging created a cardboard packaging system for can multipacks that eliminates the need for plastic rings and shrink wrap. SavrPack launched thermodynamic packets that keep fruit and vegetables stored inside fresher for longer, reducing waste from households and grocery stores.

Other companies are being recognized for designing delightful products that expand our palates. YouTube star MrBeast launched snacks called Feastables and has used the snacks to create more of his signature stunt-filled content. Newly launched Heyday Canning has turned a boring pantry staple—canned beans—into tasty meals


For selling fans on craveable content

While consumer-facing facing brands scramble to sign on influencers as ambassadors, YouTuber MrBeast (aka Jimmy Donaldson) turned the tables and developed a breakout restaurant empire on his own, marketing it directly to his 116 million subscribers. In 2020, he created the virtual restaurant MrBeast Burger, announcing the new brand via a YouTube video that has since amassed more than 110 million views. The restaurant, which is now available in 1,700 locations across the U.S. and the U.K, opened its first physical location at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey this past September. The pandemonium that ensued when a reported 10,000 fans showed up at the mall for its debut became a viral moment in and of itself.

In 2022, MrBeast used his marketing playbook to expand further into food, spinning out the snack brand Feastables, which makes chocolate bars and cookies. (Jim Murray, the former president of the protein bar company RXBar, is Feastables’ CEO and cofounder.) Within four months, the brand reported $10 million in sales, and in September it launched in Walmart.

The key to the success of both brands: MrBeast isn’t just cashing in on his internet fame to sell products: He’s using the products themselves to create stunt-filled craveable content for his followers. He paired his Feastables announcement with a sweepstakes giveaway of $1 million worth of prizes (Teslas, Sea Doos, Beats by Dre earbuds), drawing so much user traffic that his site crashed. And then he took the grand prize winners on an unorthodox tour of his Feastables factory. The resulting video, I Built Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!, now has 128 million views.

For the MrBeast Burger launch at the American Dream mall, he announced that he’d give $10,000 to 100 people who could hide in the mall without being found. One day after the video of the antic-filled game of hide-and-seek (56 million views) went live, MrBeast cut the ribbon of his first brick-and-mortar outpost.

Read more about MrBeast, honored as No. 46 on Fast Company’s list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2023.

  1. TAZO

For making a major commitment to regenerative farming

This year, Tazo, one of the biggest tea companies in the United States, rolled out a plan to source its entire tea supply chain exclusively from farms that use regenerative farming practices by 2026. The Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey–based company has already started making changes: Under the new plan, every aspect of the business will be reevaluated through a regenerative-focused lens, whether it’s how the company treats and compensates farmers or how it sources ingredients and packaging. As a first step, the brand reformulated its four best-selling blends with ingredients grown using regenerative practices, such as monitoring soil health, providing pollinator habitats on farms, and using cover crops. The new formulations meet requirements from the USDA, Fair Trade USA, and the Rainforest Alliance. By the end of 2023, the tea brand expects that 60% to 80% of its products will reflect regenerative practices, and it plans to use exclusively reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025. In 2022, the company also donated approximately $1.475 million to mission-aligned organizations through its 1% for the Planet commitment.


For taking nonalcoholic beers mainstream

Nonalcoholic brewing company Athletic Brewing has developed a cult following since its launch six years ago, becoming the largest alcohol-free craft beer brand in the United States. The brand, which appeals to consumers with its limited-edition drops and social media partnerships with influencers, including college athletes, grew from producing 12,000 cases of beer in 2018 to 1.4 million in 2021. In June, it increased its production capacity dramatically—to more than 5 million cases—with the opening of a new 150,000-square-foot facility in Milford, Connecticut, one of the biggest nonalcoholic breweries in the world. Athletic made moves to further mainstream its brews by taking a $50 million investment from Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. in November, which gave KDP a minority stake in the company. In 2022, Athletic scaled its distribution, and now its brews are sold in all 50 states. The company also recently expanded its U.K. presence via new placements with the grocery chain Tesco.


For harvesting fish sustainably in the deep ocean


Traditional fish farms in bays and estuaries can wreak havoc on coastal environments. The offshore fish farming company Forever Oceans has developed an alternative approach: It raises sashimi-grade fish in the middle of the ocean—more than a mile below the surface. Forever Oceans uses AI-powered cameras, remote-controlled robots, and a single-point mooring system to minimize its farms’ impact on the seafloor and ocean ecosystems. In 2022, at its farm off the coast of Panama, the company finalized the development of its offshore remote technology and systems. These include a software platform capable of ingesting data from dozens of remote farm locations (covering everything from water quality to fish behavior) and submersible growing enclosures that are larger than Olympic-sized pools and capable of withstanding a Category 4 hurricane. Forever Oceans began harvesting its first cohort of fish in 2022. Its Kanpachi is now being served in more than 75 restaurants across the U.S. The company also signed a 20-year lease on a farm off the coast of Brazil, the largest of its kind.


For making vegan eggs out of ultra-nutritious pumpkin seeds.

Spero, the company behind vegan staples like Sunflower Cheese, created a new plant-based egg in late 2022. The keto- and allergen-safe Pepita Egg is made from just seven ingredients, including pumpkin seeds, which are rich in protein, zinc, and magnesium. According to the company, the Pepita Egg is the only pourable clean label egg substitute on the market, meaning that it is made of natural ingredients of beneficial nutritional value. The Pepita Egg launched in Sprouts Farmers Markets across the U.S. The company’s other products are now stocked in grocery chains that include Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Kroger, and more.


For tripling the lifespan of perishable fruits and veggies

In 2021, SavrPak introduced its flagship product: a small, biodegradable packet that can be placed inside takeout and delivery food containers to capture condensation and keep meals crispy and dry. In 2022, the company turned its attention to grocery stores, launching a thermodynamic packet that can keep delicate produce fresher than traditional packaging. Notably, though other companies have developed ways to extend the shelf life of perishable food, SavrPak is the only one to address produce that doesn’t have protective skins, such as berries and lettuce. In trials with produce growers, SavrPak’s packets extended the shelf life of blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries by four to seven days and Persian cucumbers by 28 days, allowing grocers to keep these items on shelves for longer, reducing food waste. The packaging is already being used at select supermarkets, including Mexico’s Justo chain, and will roll out in Spain, the U.K., Peru, and Canada next year.


For inventing a greener way to package cans

Atlanta-based design company Graphic Packaging developed Keelclip, a cardboard packaging system designed for can multipacks. Launched in Europe in 2019, Keelclip eliminates the need for plastic rings and shrink wrap to hold cans together; it saved an estimated 3 million pounds of plastic in 2019 alone. This year, the company partnered with Coca-Cola to bring the invention to the United States for the first time, installing a Keelclip packing machine at a production facility in New York. The machine is estimated to save 75,000 pounds of plastic annually in the production of 3.1 million cases. To date, the technology has been used to package more than 550 million packs worldwide. Coca-Cola has stated that it plans to roll out the packaging solution across the world.


For championing biodiversity by making products with unloved ingredients

While many companies start with a pre-existing product and try to find more sustainable ways of producing it, ten-year-old Simple Mills has adopted a strategy of identifying ingredients that promote biodiversity and using them to develop products. The company launched two milestone products this year: Simple Mills’ Nut Butter Stuffed Sandwich Cookies and Nut & Seed Flour All Purpose Baking Mix. Both are made with buckwheat, a fast-growing plant that can rejuvenate soil and help prevent the spread of invasive weeds. With distribution in more than 28,000 stores, Simple Mills is helping expand market demand for buckwheat and other sustainable ingredients. This year, the company also started working with farmers in Java, Indonesia, to implement regenerative agricultural practices in coconut sugar harvesting, and it launched an initiative to make almond farming more sustainable in California.


For creating a new category: premium beans

Canned food startup Heyday Canning has taken a cheap pantry staple—canned beans—and turned it into a tasty meal. Cofounded in fall 2022 by Kat Kavner, a Clif Bar alum, and Jaime Tulley, who worked at Sweet Earth Foods, the brand launched six varieties of flavored beans, including harissa lemon chickpeas and kimchi sesame navy beans. The cans are priced at $4.99 and designed to compete with $0.99 beans in the canned goods aisle. The brand was created during the pandemic, when the cofounders saw many consumers reaching for canned food, only to find canned beans pretty bland. In November, Heyday began selling direct to consumer and in Sprouts grocers nationwide. It’s rolling out to Whole Foods in 2023.


For fermenting cooking oil that’s healthier and more sustainable than other oils

Zero Acre Farms produces guilt-free cooking oil that has a 90% smaller environmental footprint than traditional vegetable oil. Using fermentation, a process by which microbial cultures convert sugarcane into fat, Zero Acre Farms can create oil in days, compared to the months or years it takes for farmers to harvest oil from crops. Zero Acre’s oil can be produced with 17 times less land than traditional olive oil requires, and 11 times less water than sunflower oil. Released in July 2022 and sold (for now) direct-to-consumer, the oil is starting to draw in a faithful consumer base: The month after launching, Zero Acre saw a 500% increase in its returning customer rate. The company raised $37 million in February 2022 to help scale its production and bring its oils to a wider market.

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.

Visit The Deal to read the entire article (subscription required).

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

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

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,, 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 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

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

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

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 and 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."