Vestar Capital Partners Named to Inc.'s 2023 List of Founder-Friendly Investors

NEW YORKNov. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Vestar Capital Partners, a leading U.S. private equity firm, today announced that it has been named to Inc.'s 2023 Founder-Friendly Investors list honoring the private equity, venture capital, and debt firms with the best track records of successfully backing entrepreneurs.

The list recognizes firms with which entrepreneurs can collaborate while gaining the financial and strategic support they need to help accelerate growth. The firms on the Inc. list have successful track records of remaining actively involved with the businesses in which they invest.

Vestar has invested over $3 billion in more than 27 founder- and family-owned companies since its inception in 1988, and its current portfolio consists of 12 founder-led businesses across Consumer, Business & Technology Services and Healthcare.

"We are proud of our 35+ year track record of partnering with founders, continuing their family legacy, and sharing a commitment to their values," said Dan O'Connell, Founder and CEO of Vestar. "We appreciate Inc.'s recognition, and we are grateful for the opportunity to offer our operational expertise, long-term perspectives, and passion for building better businesses to our founder partners."

"Now more than ever, founder-led companies need financing partners that offer guidance, expertise, and understanding—not just capital. These are the private equity, venture capital, and debt firms that have founders' backs when it comes to accelerating growth," says Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief of Inc. Business Media.

Inc. compiled its list by surveying founders who have worked with private equity, venture capital, and debt firms about their experiences partnering with the firms and examining data on how portfolio companies have grown during these partnerships.

To see this year's complete list, go to: https://www.inc.com/founder-friendly-investors/2023

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 92 companies – as well as more than 200 add-on acquisitions – with a total value of approximately $50 billion. For more information on Vestar, please visit www.vestarcapital.com.


Nox Health logo

Nox Health Expands Board of Directors

ALPHARETTA, Ga., Nov. 01, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Nox Health, a global sleep health leader in sleep diagnostics and value-based sleep care management, today announced the appointment of three new board members: Lloyd Dean, Chief Executive Emeritus, CommonSpirit Health; David Schlanger, Executive Chairman, Progyny; Dr. Bill Lewis, Telehealth Consultant to Fortune 500 companies.

“Sleep is the missing gap in care central to all chronic conditions,” said Sigurjon Kristjanson, CEO Nox Health. “Lloyd, David and Bill each provide the company with relevant, current and direct experience working with the plan sponsors, payers, providers and health systems who can benefit from filling that gap in care through our portfolio of value-based sleep care management solutions.”

David Schlanger is the Executive Chairman, Progyny, a leading fertility benefits management company. He previously served as the company’s CEO, where he led the company to reach key milestones, including achieving five consecutive years of industry leading clinical outcomes and becoming the first fertility and family building company to go public. Prior to Progyny, he served as the CEO of WebMD, the health information resource.

“Nox Health is differentiated in the market because it reframes sleep as a critical intervention strategy that curbs the progression of multiple chronic diseases, with a dramatic impact on plan costs and outcomes,” said David Schlanger, Executive Chairman, Progyny. “I’m delighted to be working with the Nox team to guide the commercialization strategy as we align the interests of members, plan sponsor, and providers to ensure successful outcomes.”

Lloyd Dean, Chief Executive Emeritus, CommonSpirit Health, is a nationally recognized leader within healthcare. During his time as CEO of CommonSpirit Health, he was responsible for the organization’s overall management, governance, strategy and direction. He led CommonSpirit Health and Dignity Health through significant strategic, operational, and financial transformations to its current status as a leading health care organization recognized for high quality, compassionate care, operational excellence and successful financial results.

“Given my experience in the health system space across large patient populations, I understand how sleep deprivation impacts virtually every chronic condition, like diabetes, hypertension and obesity,” said Lloyd Dean, Chief Executive Emeritus, CommonSpirit Health. “I look forward to working with the Nox Health Board of Directors as the company integrates its science-backed, behavioral interventions into traditional care models to help overcome sleep care treatment barriers, drive higher rates of adoption and reduce costs.”

Dr. Bill Lewis currently serves as Senior Consultant, through WellMedcare, on telemedicine for Fortune 500 companies and Care Delivery Organizations like Humana. He is currently engaged on Advisory Boards for several telemedicine companies such as GlobalMed, SmartMeter and Teledentist, and is on the Board of Quest Analytics. Previously, he was the Chair of the ATA/CHQI Accreditation Committee for Telemedicine currently known as the URAC Telemedicine Accreditation Program. He served as SVP for Concentra overseeing 140 clinics and 200 plus Clinic worksites and physicians for 20 years.

Dr. Bill Lewis commented: “I am proud to join the Board of Directors of Nox Health, a purpose-driven company that is focused on enabling access and improving outcomes, issues that I have dedicated my career to addressing.”

About Nox Health
Nox Health is a global leader in sleep diagnostics and value-based care on a mission to improve the health of people with chronic conditions. Our diagnostic devices are used more than two million times annually in more than 50 countries, and our value-based, outcomes-focused sleep care management program now covers more than a million employees. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and with operations in Reykjavík, Iceland and Denver, Colorado, Nox Health’s delivery of sleep care is unmatched with accurate sleep diagnostics, comprehensive, value-based sleep care management and rigorous outcomes measurement. For more information on Nox Health, please visit www.noxhealth.com.



Titan Frozen Fruit logo

Titan Frozen Fruit Strengthens Team with the Additions of Alan Cutler as Chief Financial Officer and Tom Byrne as Executive Vice President of Commercial Development

Longtime Industry Executives to Support Titan's Sustainable Growth and M&A Initiatives

 

SANTA MARIA, Calif.Oct. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Titan Frozen Fruit ("Titan" or "the Company"), a market-leading, value-added food ingredient manufacturer and fruit processor, announced today two new additions to strengthen the Company's senior leadership team. Alan Cutler has been named Chief Financial Officer and Tom Byrne has been named Executive Vice President of Commercial Development. Titan is a portfolio company of Vestar Capital Partners and Windhover Capital.

"Given Alan's and Tom's successful track records, we are confident they will play a key role in Titan's transformation," said Jon Larsen, CEO of Titan. "Alan's leadership in developing financial strategies to drive sustainable growth, as well as his focus on enhancing Titan's finance function and processes, will be critical as we build out the organization. Additionally, Tom's strong sales and business development background and his M&A experience will be an asset for Titan as we look for new opportunities to grow the business both organically and through strategic acquisitions. I welcome them both to the Company."

Mr. Cutler has spent over 25 years building and leading teams in the food, agriculture and manufacturing industries, most recently as CFO of Randall Foods. Some of his previous C-level roles include serving as CFO at Vita-Pakt Citrus Products Co., CEO and COO at True Fresh High Pressure Processing/True Food Innovations, and CFO/President/GM at Goglanian Bakeries Inc. (now Rich Products Corporation, Inc.). Mr. Cutler earned both his bachelor of science and masters of business administration degrees from Troy University.

"I'm eager to work with the Titan team to leverage what I've learned over my long career in food processing to help position the Company for its next stage of growth," said Mr. Cutler. "I look forward to working closely with Jon, Tom and the rest of the Titan management team as we look to take advantage of opportunities in the market."

With more than 25 years of experience leading transformational changes in complex business environments, Mr. Byrne was most recently Senior Vice President – Division Manager at Golden West Packaging Group, where he led the integration of three agricultural-centric packaging businesses. Previously, he served as President of Growers Express, and was also Vice President – General Manager at Sambrailo Packaging, and Director of Food Sales at Peninsula Packaging. He holds a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Notre Dame.

In this newly created Executive Vice President of Commercial Development position, Mr. Byrne will lead business and product development and operational efficiencies across Titan, and will also serve as a critical member of the Company's Corporate Development/M&A team.

"I'm thrilled to be joining Titan at an exciting stage of its development," said Mr. Byrne. "With its strong industry reputation and the resources and support from Vestar Capital and Windhover Capital, Titan is well positioned to become a true leader in a fragmented market. I am eager to drive new innovations and help grow the Company."

About Titan Frozen Fruit
Based in Santa Maria, CA and founded in 2013, Titan is a market leading, value-added food ingredient manufacturer and fruit processor. 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 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 over $11 billion in 92 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.

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.

 


Logo for Roland.

Vestar Capital-backed Roland Foods Acquires ifiGOURMET, a Provider of High-quality Products for the Bakery and Pastry Industries

NEW YORKAug. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Roland Foods, LLC ("Roland Foods"), a purveyor of fine global ingredients for over 85 years and a portfolio company of Vestar Capital Partners, announced today that it has acquired ifiGOURMET, a leading importer and master distributor of high-quality products for professional use in the bakery, pastry, confectionery, and ice cream industries. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

ifiGOURMET will be combined with AUI Fine Foods, Roland Foods' sweet division, and ifiGOURMET's owner and CEO Rick Brownstein will remain with the company going forward.

"This strategic acquisition will strengthen AUI Fine Foods' footprint in the key Chicago and San Francisco markets and expands our sweet product offering, which will allow us to better serve existing and new customers nationwide," said Keith Dougherty, CEO of Roland Foods. "We believe tremendous opportunities exist in the gourmet food and ingredients market today, and the addition of the ifiGOURMET team will better position Roland Foods for growth."

An importer of gourmet dessert products and ingredients from around the world, ifiGOURMET serves more than 1,500 in-store bakery, restaurant chain and foodservice customers nationwide. It operates two distribution centers in Chicago, IL, and San Francisco, CA.

"We are proud to support Roland Foods' expansion with the acquisition of ifiGOURMET, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Keith and the entire Roland Foods and AUI Fine Foods team as they continue to identify new strategic acquisition opportunities," said Ken O'Keefe, Vestar Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, and Member of the Board of Roland Foods.

"Joining AUI Fine Foods and the Roland Foods' family will provide ifiGOURMET with the resources and relationships needed to take our organization to the next level," said Mr. Brownstein. "Roland Foods and AUI share our culture and strong commitment to customer service and deeply understand our business, and we're excited about the future."

About Roland Foods
Since 1934, Roland Foods has been a purveyor of premium, high-quality global ingredients. With a curated portfolio of over 2,400 products carefully sourced worldwide, the brand is a trusted resource relied upon by chefs and home cooks. An established brand in the Fine Foods category, Roland Foods aims to inspire culinary curiosity and creativity in the kitchen. To learn more about Roland Foods, please visit https://rolandfoods.com/


Headshot Norm Alpert

PE Hub Podcast: How PE pros are handling higher interest rates and the slowdown in dealmaking

In this first episode of the PE Hub miniseries, Private Markets and the End of Cheap Money, reporters talks to dealmakers from Corsair, OEP, Vestar and more to hear how sponsors are coping with the higher price of ‘L’ in LBOs.

Central banks around the world have been raising interest rates to combat inflation, making borrowing more expensive for everyone. That includes private equity firms, which for years have enjoyed historically low borrowing costs to finance leveraged buyouts. So how are private equity firms copying with the end of cheap money? To find out, reporters and editors across several PEI Group titles have spent the last few months speaking to dozens of industry participants to get their perspectives.

In this first episode of the five-part podcast miniseries, Private Markets and the End of Cheap Money, we look at how higher interest rates are playing out in private equity transactions and why certain areas of M&A (deals in the mid-market, in particular) may be facing outcomes different from what you might expect.

Mary Kathleen Flynn, editor-in-chief of PE Hub, spoke with a wide range of dealmakers, including private equity firm leaders, lenders and investment bankers, about the impact of high interest rates and other factors like high inflation on PE-backed transactions.

Featured in this episode: Norm Alpert, founding partner at Vestar Capital Partners; Greg Belinfanti, senior managing director of One Equity Partners; Marc Leder, co-founder and co-CEO of Sun Capital Partners; Ignacio Jayanti, CEO of Corsair Capital; Milwood Hobbs Jr, managing director and head of North American sourcing and origination at Oaktree; Michelle Handy, managing director and head of portfolio and underwriting of First Eagle Alternative Credit’s direct lending platform; and Peg Jackson, managing director, software, internet and digital media at Stifel.

Listen here on Apple Podcasts or on the PE Hub website.


Logo for Simple Mills.

Vestar VII Portfolio Company Simple Mills Named One of Fast Company’s 2022 Brands That Matter

Fast Company’s 2022 Brands That Matter list recognizes companies leading on social action, sustainability, inclusivity, and fun

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Fast Company’s Brands That Matter awards program aims to get beyond corporate vision statements and management talking points, celebrating a company’s connection with its audience through cultural relevance, social impact, and clear, authentic communication.

Now in its second year, Brands That Matter has grown from 95 honorees last year to 144 in 2022. While judging applications, editorial staff looked for a clear synthesis between how the brand presents itself and how its customers perceive it. This year’s honorees are divided between 70 brands in 22 categories and our main list, which contains 74 brands that broadly fit into five themes—Community-Minded Business, Elevating the Everyday, Fun and Fandom, Mind and Body, and Spreading the Word.

All of the honorees clearly generated enthusiasm among their customers, offering a model of what other brands should be aiming for, and what a brand, at its best, can achieve.

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Mind and Body Category

These 19 brands are helping people sharpen their minds, look good, and improve their health -- BY JEFF BEER

Need to look good, feel good, or learn a new language? These Brands That Matter winners have you covered.

The brands we trust with our physical and mental well-being play a unique role in our lives. From jeans and make-up, to fitness recovery and fertility, these companies are building relationships with customers beyond the products they’re selling. As Brands That Matter honorees, the following 20 brands demonstrated a commitment to mind and body—whether that’s fighting hunger, making food more sustainable, or preventing skin cancer.

Duolingo has gamified language learning, while also finding new ways to tap into culture. On one hand, its mascot, Duo the Owl, is a TikTok star, while on the other, the brand made a free Ukrainian phrasebook for people to help refugees from that country’s war with Russia. Abercrombie not only ditched the dark mall stores and too-cool vibe for a more inclusive brand, which it baked into its products like Curve Love jeans that take into account a much more diverse variety of body types. Kindbody has worked to take fertility healthcare from a barely whispered issue into a more accessible and inclusive service for all.

Here are the brands leading the way for our mind and body.

ABERCROMBIE & FITCH

Once the domain of shirtless models and dimly lit mall stores, Abercrombie & Fitch has gone through a more recent brand revitalization. That image lift includes combining TikTok creativity and community engagement with social issues through support for The Steve Fund and fellow Brands That Matter honoree The Trevor Project, as well as smart product moves like its Curve Love denim fits, and the launch of a new performance-active brand called YPB.

ABOUT-FACE

About-Face has become a TikTok and fan favorite for fuss-free makeup that is still plenty extra—and that’s by design. Founder Ashley Frangipane, aka singer-songwriter Halsey, developed the Technicolor, texture-forward cosmetics (think chunky glitter, buttery shimmer, and glossy shine) to be as cost conscious as they are extravagant. Most of About-face’s clean, vegan products—from liquid shadow Matte Fluid Eye Paint to the super-creamy Cheek Freak Blush Balm—are priced between $12 and $18, can be easily blended out with fingers, and are designed to offer users versatility in constructing whatever look they want. Following a solid launch in January 2021 as a direct-to-consumer brand, it hit more than 500 Ulta locations and the beauty retailer’s website in June, bringing the products to a wider audience. The company also debuted the even lower-priced but equally Gen Z-savvy AF94 by Halsey line, which launched exclusively at Walmart in July. —Rachel Kim Raczka

COURSERA

Coursera has more than 100 million registered learners, and counts as partners more than 250 leading universities and industry educators—including Yale, AWS, and Microsoft—to which it offers job-relevant courses, hands-on projects, certificates, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The brand’s biggest impact had been aimed at expanding access to education for underserved communities around the world, with initiatives like the American Dream Academy. Undertaken alongside the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, it will serve more than 200,000 underemployed people over three years. The brand has also worked with organizations in Barbados to reskill up to 120,000 pandemic-impacted workers and provide 20,000 scholarships for Barbadian women.

DUOLINGO

Duolingo brings a sense of humor to TikTok with the antics of its owl mascot, but data show it’s serious about language learning. The language learning platform finds ways to tap into culture, with a 56% boost in users studying Italian in the two days after Italy’s song won Eurovision 2021, and 40% more interest in learning Korean in the two weeks after Squid Game’s debut than in the week prior. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine driving interest in learning Ukrainian—and a 577% increase in users learning Ukrainian—Duolingo donated that ad revenue to relief organizations.

ELTAMD SKIN CARE

Long trusted as one of the best sunscreen brands under the, uh, sun, EltaMD has worked over the past year to create brand work that highlight’s lesser-known skin cancer risk. While skin cancer is often associated with fair skin, survival rates for Black Americans who contract it is much lower, and one of the most common sites of skin cancer is the bottom of the foot. Now you know.

IMPOSSIBLE FOODS

A name synonymous with plant-based meat products, Impossible has further expanded its footprint over the past year by releasing faux sausage, chicken nuggets, and pork products, while also appealing to meat eaters. According to Chicago-based analytics company Numerator, nearly 100% of Impossible Foods buyers also buy animal-derived products.

JUST EGG

The brand’s plant-based egg is made from mung beans that use 83% less land, 98% less water, and produces 93% fewer carbon emissions than conventional eggs. This year, Just Egg launched with chains like Caribou Coffee and Peet’s Coffee, and in New York City delis through fellow Brands That Matter honoree Plantega—bringing its plant-based message to breakfast sandwiches across the country.

KINDBODY

The fertility benefits provider aims to help fertility healthcare in the U.S. evolve from fragmented, inequitable, expensive, and inaccessible to the most accessible. This year, Kindbody launched at-home fertility tests for women and men, further expanding access, and more than 10,000 people attended fertility education events hosted by the brand.

LITTLE SPOON

Healthy baby-food-meets-celebrity cult brand Little Spoon has found a way to charm both parents and their little ones. Kids love the food enough to boost sales by 110% in the past year and see the company expand into older kids’ meals and snacks. Its pop cultural cache includes celeb supporters like Serena Williams, Bobbi Brown, Arianna Huffington, and Rebecca Minkoff, as well as a board game called Is This Normal that sold out with zero advertising.

OLAY

Olay has leaned into its brand muscle by helping to get more BIPOC—especially women of color—into STEM fields. Projects in the past year have included the #DecodeTheBias campaign, which sent 1,200 girls to code camp with Black Girls CODE, and a Million Women Mentors partnership, which mentored 1,000 girls interested in STEM. The brand also has committed to having no retouching or distortion of the skin in any of its U.S. ads, including content created by influencers for the brand.

POSHMARK

With more than 80 million global users, the secondhand clothing platform was acquired by South Korean tech company Naver Corp in October for $1.2 billion. In the year preceding the acquisition, the brand built out new features that allow users to shop by trends and repost items they’ve purchased, as well as giving sellers tools for real-time data on their sales and inventory. The brand also partnered with Snap to launch Poshmark Mini, a social shopping experience inside of Snapchat.

SIMPLE MILLS

This is a brand that takes the planet’s health seriously by making regenerative agriculture a central part of its supply chain in an effort to make it more mainstream. Simple Mills designed products like its Sweet Thins and Organic Seed Flour Crackers to include a diverse variety of ingredients—watermelon seed flour, for example—that create market demand for underrepresented crops to enhance agricultural biodiversity. Also, it’s building direct farmer contracts that include technical assistance and financial incentives for adopting regenerative principles.

SUMMERSALT

Summersalt has made its mission dismantling the toxic imagery around swimsuit marketing (and the negative ways it can affect body image). The brand’s products prioritize non-sexualized designs and body-positive advertising. Its “Every Body is a Summersalt Body” campaign focused on body positivity and self-confidence, featuring a diverse set of inspiring women. Participants included Olympian and registered nurse Ilona Maher, models and podcast cohosts Michaela and Hunter McGrady, best-selling novelist Candace Bushnell, WNBA All-Star Betnijah Laney, and others.

THE BODY SHOP

On the heels of the #BlackTikTokStrike, the brand launched its rejuvenated line of Body Butter in North America by engaging a diverse and talented group to develop its ad campaign, which created an original dance aimed at spreading love, body positivity, and joy. The viral dance shone a bright light on creators whose creativity and talents had been marginalized on the platform—and a month after launch, TikTok creator and campaign creative Laila Mohammad won the first-ever VMA award for best viral dance.

THE NORTH FACE

Read our cover story on how filmmaker and adventurer Jimmy Chin is helping the North Face explore important new terrain: a more diverse outdoors.

THE REALREAL

The luxury fashion consignment platform launched its Circular ReSource Lab last year to create impactful solutions to this fashion waste crisis, including the ReCollection upcycling program, in partnership with brands like Balenciaga and Stella McCartney, which turns damaged items into one-of-a-kind pieces.

THERABODY

Though it’s been around since 2009, Therabody (née Theragun) has had a transformative past couple years. The company has expanded its roster of products beyond its flagship massage gun to include everything from new devices to a CBD line. Therabody also has been opening brick-and-mortar retail stores, as well as several Reset locations, billed as “whole-body wellness centers” that feature signature massage and other therapeutic treatments, offering customers a chance to test out the latest products. These include compression therapy boots, designed for massage and post-workout recovery; a handheld facial health tool with micro-current and LED functionality, as well as cold and hot therapy; and a burgeoning period pain relief program delivered via the company’s PowerDot Device. Therabody also has been giving back, including partnerships with Red, to donate 2% of the purchase price of special red devices and certain CBD products to health-focused programs. —Danica Lo

VIRGIN PULSE

People rarely get excited about a health management and benefits navigation platform, but Virgin Pulse has managed to buck that trend and get users engaged. Used by leading companies and national health plans, the company is focused on helping people build health behaviors via its Homebase for Health, which offers live coaching and programs on everything from mindfulness and nutrition to musculoskeletal health and quitting tobacco. By Virgin Pulse’s accounting, 73% of users developed positive daily habits in 2021, and its use of behavioral science, incentives, and personalization led to sustained, continuous engagement of 50%, compared with the industry average of about 5%.

QUAKER

The PepsiCo-owned brand worked over the past year to expand its Quaker Qrece program, which targets malnutrition in Latin America through donations of oat-based food products, and has helped more than 10,000 children in Mexico and Guatemala, aiming to reach 50,000 kids by 2025. The work also has attracted more than 22 million media impression and 340 million unique visitors to its website.

This article is part of Fast Company’s 2022 Brands That Matter awards. Explore the full list of brands whose success has come from embodying their purpose in a way that resonates with their customers.

 


Logo for Simple Mills.

Simple Mills Reports Significant Post-Pandemic Growth, Doubling Retail Sales Since 2019

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Simple Mills, the company on a mission to advance the holistic health of the planet and its people through delicious, better-for-you foods, today announced it experienced its most momentous growth in company history from 2019 to 2022. Simple Mills more than doubled retail sales during this timeframe. The brand was originally founded to help make clean, nutrient-dense foods easy and accessible, but evolved its mission in 2021 to include planetary health as an equally critical component, making a promise that all future innovation will advance regenerative agriculture.

“I started Simple Mills in 2012 with a brazen vision of helping people feel better through purposeful, nutrient-dense food that easily fit into their lives and didn’t ask them to sacrifice flavor for health,” said Simple Mills founder and CEO, Katlin Smith. “But as the business grew, I realized human health can’t truly exist without considering the health of our planet. I became interested in regenerative agriculture and how we can use food as a force for both human and planetary health. We took a significant leap in evolving our mission and making a commitment that 100% of product innovation moving forward will help advance regenerative farming principles – but what’s most exciting is how consumers and retailers are responding. We’re experiencing growth and recognition unlike anything we’ve seen since our founding and are excited to continue amplifying our people and planet-forward mission in 2023 and beyond.”

As consumers increasingly recognize the impact their food choices have on their own health as well as that of the planet, Simple Mills has become a staple in millions of American households. To pioneer the way the world eats through revolutionary food design, Simple Mills created three product innovation pathways: 1) design for diverse ingredients, 2) direct trade with farmers, and 3) invest in regional adoption of regenerative agriculture principles for key ingredients. One hundred percent of its product innovation now advances regenerative agriculture through at least one of these pathways. The brand’s evolved mission and commitment to personal and planetary health is evident in new product launches, including new Nut Butter Stuffed Sandwich Cookies, smartly sweetened with organic coconut sugar from perennial trees that thrive within agroforestry systems and Organic All Purpose Baking Mix, which features a diverse, nutrient-dense mix of chestnut, almond, buckwheat, and flax flours.

The company is also strengthening its work with farmers and suppliers to provide greater transparency to on-farm practices through a new Regenerative Agriculture Engagement Tool. This proprietary interactive platform gathers farm-level data from suppliers about specific practices used by farmers throughout the supply chain. It also helps visualize trends across regions and crops, while serving as a farmer-forward resource by prompting reflection on ways growers are already implementing regenerative principles on their land and highlighting opportunities to expand their approach in the future.

“Our commitment to a product design framework that connects our regenerative agriculture initiatives to our innovation pipeline is at the heart of our vision,” said Christina Skonberg, Director of Sustainability & Mission. “The three innovation pathways guide our product development process, and our programming allows us to gain visibility to the farm-level practices and associated impacts to our value chains, which is critically important for creating products that are better for consumers and the planet. We’re especially excited about our improved Regenerative Agriculture Engagement Tool, as it’s an incredible way to gain insight and visibility into ingredients throughout our supply chain, identify partnership opportunities to scale regenerative principles, and serve as a resource to farmers and suppliers who are interested in deepening their commitment to the health of the land.”

To support its robust innovation pipeline, Simple Mills recently opened a new innovation hub, called Sunworks, in Mill Valley, Calif. The space sits in a geographical epicenter for innovation and disruptive design, and serves as a new destination for creativity. It houses the Innovation, R&D, and Sustainability teams alongside Smith. Many of the brand’s farm partners and agricultural thought partners are also located in California, giving the team opportunities to learn from leaders in the agricultural movement on a regular basis while also providing a place to host farmers, media, and industry events. In addition to the Sunworks office, Simple Mills has seen powerful growth across its workforce, with 100% growth between 2020 and 2022, reaching nearly 100 employees. With 62% of employees having been hired since the start of COVID-19, the brand has fostered an inclusive hybrid work environment with employees spanning 17 additional states across the country.

Simple Mills crackers, cookies, bars and baking mixes are sold in more than 28,000 natural and conventional stores across the country. This includes national distribution with top U.S. retailers, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Walmart, and Costco. In the last five years alone, Simple Mills has entered more than 20,000 new stores, increasing its brick-and-mortar availability by more than 300%. Aside from significant retailer growth, the brand also has a strong e-commerce presence both on Amazon and its own website.

To learn more about Simple Mills, its commitment to advancing regenerative agriculture through innovations, and to find a retailer near you, please visit www.simplemills.com.

About Simple Mills

Founded in 2012, Simple Mills is a leading provider of better-for-you crackers, cookies, snack bars and baking mixes made with clean, nutrient-dense ingredients and nothing artificial, ever. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the company has disrupted center-aisle grocery categories to become the #1 baking mix brand, #1 cracker brand, #1 cookie brand in the natural channelwith distribution in over 28,000 stores nationwide. Its mission is to advance the holistic health of the planet and its people by positively impacting the way food is made. For more information, visit www.simplemills.com.

1. SPINS Data, $ Sales, Latest 52 Weeks Ending 9/4/22

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360training Announces Equity Recapitalization from GreyLion and Vestar Capital Partners

AUSTIN, TexasJuly 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — 360training (or "the Company"), a leading provider of online training and continuing education to regulated industries, today announced an equity recapitalization from GreyLion Partners LP ("GreyLion") and Vestar Capital Partners ("Vestar") to support the Company's rapid growth and accelerate acquisition activity. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

The new investment will help 360training pursue large and small strategic acquisitions within its core markets and in new markets and geographies. 360training helps organizations develop their workforces and remain compliant with labor regulations and industry certification mandates, with a content library offering more than 6,000 courses across five major verticals: Environmental Health & Safety, Food & Beverage, Real Estate, Healthcare and Financial Services.

"We are thrilled to welcome Vestar as a strategic investment partner," said 360training CEO Tom Anderson. "360training now enjoys the substantial backing of two proven investors, both of which pride themselves on partnering with portfolio companies to help accelerate growth. We are looking forward to scaling our platform within existing and new markets through continued investment in strategic acquisitions and product development."

"360training's outstanding management team, differentiated content, and focused go-to-market strategy have allowed the Company to capitalize on attractive, sustainable long-term trends in regulatory-driven online education and training," said Jake Olson and Nikhil Bhat, Managing Directors at Vestar. "We're excited to partner with GreyLion and the 360training team to fuel the Company's continued expansion and product development."

GreyLion first invested in 360training in 2018 and remains a significant owner of the Company. The firm is committed to 360training's long-term growth and success while ensuring that the Company is well positioned to further execute against its strategic business plan.

Henry Heinerscheid, Partner of GreyLion, stated, "Since our investment four years ago, 360training has grown its management team, strengthened its employee base, and invested significant capital in its technology and marketing capabilities. Those investments have enabled growth into new verticals like Healthcare and Financial Services while increasing market share in Environmental Health & Safety, Food & Beverage, and Real Estate. We are proud of the many add-on acquisitions completed to date, and we are thrilled to have Vestar join GreyLion and management to continue driving 360training's industry leadership and support the Company's expansion."

As part of the investment, Mr. Bhat and Mr. Olson of Vestar will join 360training's Board of Directors alongside existing Board members Chip Baird and Mr. Heinerscheid of GreyLion; Mr. Anderson of 360training; and Independent Director Kirk Wortman.

Harris Williams served as the exclusive financial advisor to 360training and Latham & Watkins was its legal advisor. Houlihan Lokey served as exclusive financial advisor, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP provided legal counsel, to Vestar.

About 360training
360training is an integrated digital training and compliance platform for highly regulated industries. Through a unique combination of differentiated technology and deep regulatory expertise, 360training enables professionals to attain jobs and maintain industry-mandated requirements while helping organizations develop their workforces and remain compliant. 360training's robust, proprietary content library offers over 6,000 courses across major business verticals: Environmental Health & Safety, Food & Beverage, Real Estate, Healthcare, Financial Services and more.

Since 1997, 360training.com, Inc. has delivered over 11 million training plans across multiple brands, including HIPAA ExamsMeditecAgentCampusVanEdTIPSOSHAcampusOSHA.com, and Learn2Serve. Please visit www.360training.com or their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to learn more.

About GreyLion Partners LP
GreyLion focuses on investing in high-growth businesses in the lower middle market. We seek to partner with existing owners and management teams across the consumer, industrial, healthcare, software and services sectors to deliver capital in tailored and flexible minority and control structures. GreyLion invests $25-$125 million of capital per investment, primarily within the United States. We currently manage private equity funds with aggregate commitments of approximately $1.7 billion. For more information on GreyLion, please visit http://www.greylion.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 89 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 http://www.vestarcapital.com.

 

SOURCE GreyLion Partners LP; Vestar Capital Partners


Logo for Iri.

IRI and NPD to Merge and Create a Leading Global Technology, Analytics and Data Provider

Combines leading CPG, general merchandise, foodservice and food consumption data capabilities to offer innovative view of total retail purchasing and consumption trends

CHICAGO and PORT WASHINGTON, NY, April 7, 2022 – Information Resources, Inc. ("IRI"), a fast-growing global leader in innovative solutions and services for consumer, retail and media companies, and The NPD Group ("NPD"), a global provider of market information and advisory services in more than 20 industries, today announced the signing of a definitive agreement through which IRI and NPD will merge. The combination will create a leading global technology, analytics and data provider that offers clients a view of total retail purchasing and consumption trends powered by advanced, predictive analytics on the industry-leading IRI Liquid Data® technology platform. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the second half of 2022. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

By bringing together complementary leading data assets across a broad range of industries on the most innovative, sophisticated data visualization platform, the combined business will empower brands and retailers to collaborate, better service their customers, respond to trends and leverage more powerful insights to drive growth. NPD provides market information and advisory services for general merchandise, including softlines, technology and retail, as well as foodservice and food consumption. This will be combined with IRI's unparalleled market measurement, supply chain and media optimization solutions, technology platform, retail relationships and data assets for the CPG industry, which encompasses the grocery, convenience and over-the-counter healthcare categories.

Kirk Perry, president and CEO of IRI, said, "This combination is a win for IRI, NPD, our clients and our teams as we bring together two industry leaders to offer a total store view. We look forward to joining forces with the NPD team, which brings expertise in parts of the store that IRI does not cover today. As the global retail landscape continues to evolve, IRI and NPD will have innovative technology, analytics, data resources, talent and geographic reach to best support the growth of the world's leading brands and retailers. Our combined organization will be well-positioned for continued innovation and success, backed by the expertise and resources of our new majority investor, Hellman & Friedman ("H&F"), alongside our long-term partners at Vestar Capital and New Mountain Capital."

NPD CEO Karyn Schoenbart added, "We are excited about the prospect of combining our companies to give clients the tools and information they need to succeed amid changing consumer behavior. Both NPD and IRI share similar client-focused, innovative and collaborative cultures, making this combination a natural fit."

H&F, a premier global private equity firm, will acquire a majority stake in IRI and merge IRI with H&F portfolio company NPD. H&F will lead an ownership group consisting of existing long-term IRI investors Vestar Capital Partners ("Vestar") and New Mountain Capital ("NMC"), which will both retain significant investments in the combined company. Following the close of the transaction, H&F, Vestar and NMC will each have representation on the combined company's board of directors. Kirk Perry will become CEO of the combined company and serve on the board. NPD Executive Chairman Tod Johnson will be chairman of the combined company's board, and Karyn Schoenbart also will join the board. Jeff Ansell, current chairman of IRI's board, will continue on the combined company's board as well. Johnson and Schoenbart will continue to lead NPD until closing and will remain investors in the combined company.

Evercore, Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and Guggenheim Securities LLC are serving as financial advisors to IRI, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal counsel. Jefferies Group LLC is serving as exclusive financial advisor to NPD and H&F, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is serving as legal counsel. Kramer Levin is serving as legal counsel to Johnson and Schoenbart.

ABOUT IRI

IRI unifies technology, analytics and data to reinvent how people and companies make decisions, take action and optimize performance. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, all integrated into an on-demand, cloud-based technology platform, IRI helps to guide its more than 5,000 clients around the world in their quests to capture market share, connect with consumers, collaborate with key constituents and deliver market-leading growth. For more information, visit www.iriworldwide.com.

ABOUT THE NPD GROUP

NPD offers data, industry expertise and prescriptive analytics to help clients grow their businesses in a changing world. Over 2,000 companies worldwide rely on NPD to help them measure, predict and improve performance across all channels, including brick-and-mortar, e-commerce and B2B. NPD has services in 19 countries worldwide, with operations spanning the Americas, Europe and APAC. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, B2B technology, consumer technology, e-commerce, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, juvenile products, media entertainment, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, toys and video games. For more information, visit www.npd.com.

ABOUT HELLMAN & FRIEDMAN

Hellman & Friedman is a preeminent global private equity firm with a distinctive investment approach focused on large-scale equity investments in high-quality growth businesses. H&F seeks to partner with world-class management teams where its deep sector expertise, long-term orientation and collaborative partnership approach enable companies to flourish. H&F targets outstanding businesses in select sectors, including software and technology, financial services, healthcare, consumer and retail, and other business services.

Since its founding in 1984, H&F has invested in over 100 companies. The firm is currently investing its tenth fund, with $24.4 billion of committed capital, and has over $90 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2021. Learn more about H&F’s defining investment philosophy and approach to sustainable outcomes at www.hf.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 88 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.

ABOUT NEW MOUNTAIN CAPITAL

New Mountain Capital is a New York-based investment firm that emphasizes business building and growth, rather than debt, as it pursues long-term capital appreciation. The firm currently manages private equity, public equity and credit funds, with over $35 billion in assets under management. New Mountain seeks out what it believes to be the highest-quality growth leaders in carefully selected industry sectors and then works intensively with management to build the value of these companies. For more information on New Mountain Capital, please visit www.newmountaincapital.com.

Media Contacts:
IRI
Shelley Hughes
[email protected]
Phone: +1 312-731-1782

The NPD Group
Leslie Singer
[email protected]
Phone: +1 516-316-1583

Hellman & Friedman
Winnie Lerner
Finsbury Glover Hering
[email protected]
Phone: +1 917-375-5652

Vestar Capital Partners
Jennifer Hurson / Caroline Luz
Lambert
[email protected] / [email protected]
Phone: +1 845-507-0571

New Mountain Capital
Dana Gorman / Matthew Butler
Abernathy MacGregor
[email protected] / [email protected]
Phone: +1 212-371-5999


Headshot of Mike Vaupen

As Consumers Play Larger Role in Healthcare Choices, Deal Opportunities Abound for Vestar

As Consumers Play Larger Role in Healthcare Choices, Deal Opportunities Abound for Vestar
PE Hub
By Aaron Weitzman
Published March 7, 2022

"Telehealth will increasingly become an integrated component of how care is delivered," Vestar's Mike Vaupen said.

PE Hub’s ongoing series on private equity firms investing in healthcare continues with insights from Mike Vaupen, who joined Vestar Capital Partners as managing director and co-head of healthcare in September. Previously, Vaupen was an investment professional at Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. Prior to that, he worked at Pamplona Capital Management, where he helped to establish the firm’s healthcare vertical, and also previously worked in the healthcare group at Oak Hill Capital Partners. Vaupen began his career in the healthcare investment banking division at Morgan Stanley. He outlined Vestar’s approach to healthcare investing.

Investment Strategy

“We identify the long-term mega trends that we believe will continue to shape and drive the healthcare sector over the next five, 10-plus years. We then work to target specific themes, sub-sectors, and business models that are aligned with these trends and are a good fit with our investment criteria,” Vaupen told PE Hub. “As one example, we identified consumerization as a key theme, as patients continue to act more like consumers of healthcare and play an increasingly active and informed decision-making role in their healthcare choices. That led to our investment in Friday Health Plans last year.”

Two main areas of focus for the firm are life sciences and virtual care. “We think both virtual care and life sciences have staying power and lasting implications for how these sectors will evolve, which creates investment opportunities,” he said.

“In the life sciences market, we are focused on technology that streamlines research and development of new drugs and enables digital engagement with patients and providers,” Vaupen explained.

“Virtual care has shown enormous promise and has become more widely accepted. Going forward, telehealth will increasingly become an integrated component of how care is delivered,” Vaupen said. “There will be less of a distinction between virtual care and in-person care. Patients will look to find convenient and tech-enabled ways to receive care. Providers will look for ways to reach more patients and solve their staffing challenges – virtual care addresses both of those issues.”

Merger of Tech and Healthcare

Vestar spends a lot of time at the intersection of technology and data in healthcare, as a number of the firm’s investments have been aligned to those themes, like Quest Analytics and Press Ganey.

Healthcare still has a long ways to ago when it comes to technology adoption, Vaupen explained.

“Electronic medical records, for example, were primarily designed to be digital versions of paper charts, so that was version 1.0 of moving healthcare from a paper-based industry to one that is digital,” he said. “As a result, the systems that were designed and implemented don’t interact well with each other, and that creates complications when trying to standardize data sets. There are structural challenges that prevent healthcare from moving faster in adopting technology and being able to harness the full value. We will get there, but it will take time.”

Standing Out From Competition

Longevity is a differentiating feature, Vaupen said.

"We have invested in the healthcare space for 20+ years, over multiple business and economic cycles and periods of technology innovation," he said. “More specifically, we aim to seek out opportunities where we are uniquely qualified to add value through a combination of our prior investment experience, domain expertise, industry relationships and creative approaches to growth. We also focus on being good partners to management teams and working alongside them to scale and build lasting and sustainable growth strategies.”

Regulatory Roadblocks

One of the reasons healthcare is different from other sectors is that it is highly regulated. Recently, the Department of Justice blocked the mega deal merger between United Health and Change Healthcare – which serves as a reminder that there can be regulatory roadblocks when investing in this space.

DOJ's blocking the deal serves as "a good reminder that the other aspect of healthcare that makes it challenging and complex, but also full of opportunity and potential, is the regulatory overlay,” Vaupen said. “As investors, we are always thinking about the regulatory environment, and we monitor it closely. Sometimes our investment themes are specifically designed to capitalize on regulatory trends and tailwinds. Where there are challenges, there is also opportunity.”

Firm Facts

Founded in 1988 and based in New York City, Vestar is a US mid-market private equity firm specializing in management buyouts and growth capital investments. Vestar invests in and collaborates with incumbent management teams and private owners to build long-term enterprise value, with a focus on consumer; business and technology services; and healthcare. The firm has invested over $8 billion in 84 companies – as well as more than 200 add-on acquisitions – with a total value of approximately $50 billion.

Recent Investments

Vestar invested in Friday Health Plans in 2021.

Recent Exits

Vestar partially exited Healthgrades in 2021 after investing in 2010. Vestar exited Civitas Solutions in 2019. Vestar exited Press Ganey in 2016. Vestar exited StayWell in 2016.

 

Vestar’s Healthcare Portfolio Highlights:

(Dates refer to initial investments.)

Accanto Health: A national healthcare company specializing in eating disorders and related disorders, with two nationally known brands, The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative. (2015)
Friday Health Plans: A disruptive health insurer servicing the individual and small group markets. (August 2021)
Mercury Healthcare: A technology platform used by healthcare organizations to enable a frictionless healthcare journey through data-driven consumer and provider engagement. (2010)
Quest Analytics: Provides commercial software development and consulting services for hundreds of health plans, consultants and government agencies in the healthcare industry. (2017)