Dan Horner Headshot

PetHonesty Names Pet Industry Veteran Daniel Horner as Vice President of Sales

AUSTIN, TexasDec. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — PetHonesty, a trusted leader in premium pet health products and a portfolio company of Vestar Capital Partners, today announced it has named Daniel B. Horner as Vice President of Sales.

“We are pleased to welcome Dan to PetHonesty and are excited to gain an executive of such caliber,” said Ben Arneberg, PetHonesty CEO. “He has a proven ability to develop initiatives that lead to revenue growth. Dan’s reputation as a team player, combined with his relationships in the pet industry, will prove invaluable as we continue building a leading omnichannel brand in pet supplements.”

A 30-year pet industry veteran with a focus on pet consumables, Mr. Horner comes to PetHonesty after 15 years at Freshpet, where he was a founding member and most recently served as Vice President, Pet Channel, helping to scale the company across the globe. Prior to Freshpet, Mr. Horner held multifunctional roles at The Meow Mix Company and Ralston Purina. He holds a B.S. in Business Communications from DePauw University.

“I am delighted to join this thriving company that is dedicated to improving the lives of pets through science-backed, natural products,” said Mr. Horner. “I look forward to being part of the PetHonesty team as we focus on providing many healthy, joyful years of companionship to pet parents across the country.”

About PetHonesty 
PetHonesty is a trusted leader in premium pet health products. Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Austin, TX, the company provides a natural and noticeable boost to pet health through natural, science-backed products that demonstrate effectiveness pet parents can truly see. PetHonesty’s products are formulated to help address a plethora of common pet ailments, including immobility, digestive issues, and allergies. The company’s world-class customer service provides personalized guidance and education to help light the way to more joyful, healthy years for pets and pet parents. PetHonesty products are available via its website as well as through Amazon and Chewy. For more information, please visit www.pethonesty.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 its founding 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.

Media Contact:
Lambert & Co.
Jennifer Hurson
[email protected]
Caroline Luz
[email protected]

SOURCE: PetHonesty

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Logo for Simple Mills.

Simple Mills Partners with IRI Growth Consulting to Drive Profitable Innovation

CHICAGO – May 5, 2021 – IRI®, a fast-growing, global leader in innovative solutions and services for consumer, retail and media companies, and Simple Mills, a pioneer in the clean-food snacking space that ranks as the No. 1 baking mix, No. 1 cracker brand and No. 3 cookie brand in the natural category in over 25,000 stores nationwide, continue to expand their growth consulting partnership focused on expanding the Simple Mills portfolio and overall value proposition for retail partners and consumers. The partnership is part of IRI's efforts to guide clients of all sizes in making the most cost-effective investments in pricing, pack architecture, messaging/positioning, and product features and innovation that will strengthen their overall value proposition and profitability.

Robb Bennett, director of Insights and Analytics at Simple Mills, said, "Simple Mills partnered with IRI on a Price Pack Architecture project that drove highly actionable insights for both our current portfolio and new innovations. The IRI team mapped the current price and pack landscape, devised a custom approach to test consumer demand for new concepts across multiple retail channels, and advised on actions based on the learnings – all amid the market uncertainty of 2020. The results played a central role in developing new PPA concepts that will begin hitting the market later this year and enabled us to confidently move forward on new innovation. We greatly benefitted from the IRI team's strategic thinking, research experience and cross-category pricing expertise."

"Due to recent cost increases and shopper behavior shifts stemming from COVID-19, CPG manufacturers – especially premium players – need to strengthen their margins and justify their price positioning," said Ray Florio, executive vice president and partner of IRI Growth Consulting. "Furthermore, shoppers have become far more cynical about product claims and benefits, requiring brands to take a more sophisticated approach to communicate their true value and avoid commoditization. IRI is proud to partner with Simple Mills and other companies looking to navigate rapidly changing landscapes and make strategic growth decisions to drive sustained competitive advantage during these uncertain times."

IRI Growth Consulting is focused on supporting retail, CPG and health care companies of all sizes grow both top-line revenues and bottom-line profits simultaneously, with a focus on portfolio and brand strategy, pricing strategy, value proposition and innovation, and customer and product profitability. Among other benefits, the group can support clients by:

  • Developing strategies for expanding their portfolio to capitalize on additional use and shopping occasions.
  • Optimizing the link between product pricing, product development and marketing.
  • Determining the most efficient path forward through portfolio profitability.

If you're interested in learning more about IRI Growth Consulting, please contact Ray Florio at [email protected].


Founded in 2012, Simple Mills is a leading provider of better-for-you crackers, cookies, snack bars and baking mixes made with whole-food, nutrient-dense ingredients and nothing artificial, ever. In just eight years, the company has disrupted center-aisle grocery categories to become the #1 natural cracker and #1 natural baking brand with distribution in over 20,000 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.


The Mid-Market Growth Practice of IRI provides high-tech and high-touch support for small- to midsize manufacturers. Regardless of company size, IRI has a data solution that drives understanding and growth. Companies benefit from access to all the same tested and proven solutions offered to IRI global partners, enabling companies of all sizes to democratize data, streamline analytics and, ultimately, win in the marketplace. For more information on IRI's comprehensive portfolio of solutions specifically crafted for small- and midsized brands, please contact Robert Porod at [email protected].


IRI Contact:
Shelley Hughes
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1 312-474-3675

Team member Winston Song, with a collaged artistic background.

Behind the Buyouts: Song Serves Up Vestar’s Better-For-You Menu

May 5, 2021/The Deal / -- Welcome to Behind the Buyouts, The Deal’s podcast where we sit down with venture capitalists, private equity pros and company executives to drill down into their capital raising transactions and acquisitions.

This episode features Winston Song, managing director and co-head of the consumer group at New York-based private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners Inc., who talks about his role in the better-for-you foods business.

When Vestar Capital completed its investment in Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Inc. in January, the maker of vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, soy free, Kosher and non-GMO foods was relatively well-known on the East Coast and West Coast.

Song said he sees potential for a much wider presence for Dr. Praeger’s as the idea of more well-balanced diet grows more mainstream.

“It’s a great brand but relatively low awareness outside the coasts and outside the vegan community,” Song said. “We plan to invest in new products and marketing and bring more consumers. … They’ve got great instincts.”

Song met the management of Dr. Praeger’s at a trade show several years ago and developed a relationship. His interest was also stoked after sampling its products with his young kids.

The firm’s track record reviving Birds Eye Foods Inc. resonated with the company and helped Vestar Capital prevail in a competitive sales process for Dr. Praeger’s.

“Our bread and butter has always been to find these underinvested brands that we think have a lot of potential and have really good leaders that just need more resources,” Song said.

The firm’s experience with natural foods also helped. One early example is its 1989 investment in tea maker Celestial Seasonings Inc., which it sold to Hain Food Group for $390 million in stock in 2000.

Having an authentic product story also really matters to consumers.  In the case of Simple Mills Inc., a Vestar portfolio company since 2019, Simple Mills founder Katlin Smith launched the company after she decided to improve her diet by renting out a commercial kitchen and creating her own baked mixes.

Vestar Capital continues to work to identify sustainable food trends instead of short-lived food fads, with the firm looking at low-sugar foods as a common thread for consumers interested in cutting out carbohydrates and sugar.

Here’s the podcast:


A tonal version of the Vestar logo on a dark blue ground.

Winston Song Featured on The Food Institute Podcast

Vestar Capital Partner’s Managing Director and Co-head of the Consumer Group, Winston Song, recently sat down with Brain Choi, CEO of The Food Institute Podcast, to share his insights on the “better-for-you” category and the top investment trends shaping the food industry.

Topics discussed include plant-based products, clean ingredients, baking trends, changing consumer behavior post-pandemic, and Vestar's new investment in Dr. Praeger's.

Please tune in to the podcast here.

Logo for Friday Health Plans.

Vestar VII Leads Growth Equity Investment In Friday Health Plans

Denver, April 01, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Friday Health Plans, Inc. (“Friday”), a Denver-based health insurance holding company, announced today that it has signed an agreement to receive a $100 million equity investment led by Vestar Capital Partners, a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm. Leadenhall Capital Partners, a London-based insurance-focused investment manager, will provide an additional $60 million in debt financing. Following robust membership growth of more than 400% in 2021, Friday will leverage the additional funds to expand into new markets with a focus on technology-driven individual and small-group health insurance.

“This funding will not only allow us to offer health plans to more people, but will also accelerate Friday’s technology innovation,” said Sal Gentile, CEO of Friday Health Plans. “Friday was built specifically for individuals seeking simplicity, practical health benefits, and great service – all at an affordable price. We’re able to offer that through a combination of efficient operational execution and consumer-centric technology.”

Friday currently serves more than 70,000 members in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas, with plans to expand its offerings into multiple new states each year. Most of Friday’s health plans include $0 primary care visits, $0 mental health counseling, free generic drugs and free telehealth visits. Consumers can purchase the plans on the national or state-based health exchanges, through brokers, or directly on Friday’s website.

“Friday has proven its ability to run an efficient, technology-driven health plan in the consumer health insurance market, and with our investment, we’re excited to support the company as it grows its footprint,” said Norm Alpert, Co-President and Co-Founder of Vestar Capital Partners. “There’s great demand for affordable, customer-driven insurance, and expanding nationwide will help bring better insurance options to those who need it most.”

 "Leadenhall is delighted to continue to support and further expand its successful partnership as Friday Health Plans grows its business," said Tom Spreutels, Head of Origination at Leadenhall Capital Partners. “We are equally pleased to be supporting Friday as an innovative provider of affordable health insurance, bringing their plans to a wider group of individuals.”

Friday Health Plans was started in 2015 by Mr. Gentile and David Pinkert, two health technology industry veterans. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the pair wanted to start a simpler, friendlier health insurance company, better designed for consumers not receiving health insurance from their employer.

With headquarters in Denver, Friday Health Plans has grown exponentially through acquisition and organic growth. In 2017, the company acquired Colorado Choice Health Plans, a 45-year-old company located in Alamosa, CO. Friday continues to operate in Alamosa and has grown its employee base there to more than 175 people.

Closing of the investment is expected to occur within 90 days and is contingent upon regulatory approval and the satisfaction of certain closing conditions. This funding follows $50 million in institutional funding Friday received from Peloton Equity, Leadenhall Capital Partners and the Colorado Impact Fund in 2019.

TripleTree, LLC acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Friday Health Plans for this transaction.

About Friday Health Plans

Friday Health Plans is purpose-built specifically for people and small businesses who buy their own health insurance. The company focuses on overall simplicity to offer affordable health plans with benefits that help members stay healthy and cover them if they get sick or hurt. Operational efficiency, top-notch customer service, and smart technology are core to Friday’s consumer-centric approach. All insurance plans and services are offered and administered through licensed subsidiaries of Friday Health Plans, Inc. For more information and to find a health plan, visit www.fridayhealthplans.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 its founding in 1988, Vestar funds have invested $7 billion in 83 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.

About Leadenhall Capital Partners

Leadenhall Capital Partners is a London, UK-based institutional investment manager focused on managing life and non-life insurance linked investments with over US$6.4bn assets under management, with offices in the UK, Bermuda and the United States. Established in November 2008, Leadenhall Capital Partners has made over 125 investments in companies at various stages of their growth cycle, and at various points in the capital structure.  Leadenhall has the expertise to identify promising investment opportunities whilst also backing companies which may provide access to attractive life and health risks for its investment portfolios.  For additional information on Leadenhall, please visit www.leadenhallcp.com

Logo for healthgrades.

Healthgrades Announces Appointment of Jovan Willford as Chief Executive Officer to Lead New Phase of Growth

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Healthgrades today announced the appointment of Jovan Willford as its Chief Executive Officer and a member of its Board of Directors, effective immediately. Mr. Willford brings more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare technology and advanced analytics as a dynamic leader known for growth, transformation and strong operational focus. Rob Draughon, who has served as Healthgrades CEO since 2018 and its President and/or CFO since 2012, will assume the role of CEO of Healthgrades Marketplace division, reporting directly to Mr. Willford.

“The addition of Jovan to our leadership team comes at a critical juncture in Healthgrades' growth as we evolve our strategy and solutions to meet the changing needs of consumers, physicians, health systems and life sciences companies we serve. Given Jovan’s track record, breadth of healthcare experience and deep understanding of software, data and analytics, we are confident that Jovan will further accelerate the company’s existing growth trajectory,” said Roger Holstein, Board Member, Healthgrades and Managing Director, Vestar Capital Partners.

Recently, Healthgrades has evolved and organized into two distinct divisions: Platform and Marketplace. With the launch of the Hg Mercury platform, the Company has become a leading enterprise software and data-as-a-service platform, employed by more than 1,500 hospitals to drive patient engagement and physician alignment. With healthgrades.com audience growth at 20% annually, the Company continues to be the leading patient and provider marketplace, where America comes to find the right doctor, the right hospital and the right care.

Said Jovan Willford, CEO, Healthgrades: “The breadth and depth of Healthgrades’ offerings is unmatched in the industry. With our consumer reach and insights, plus our patient and provider engagement platform designed to help health systems accelerate growth, Healthgrades sits at the center of the healthcare ecosystem. I look forward to working with Rob and the rest of the leadership team to build on our success and deliver Healthgrades’ next wave of growth and transformation.”

“Under Rob’s leadership, we expanded and evolved our business. He led the acquisition and integration of Influence Health and Evariant, which have been essential to creating the enterprise software and data platform, Hg Mercury. Now, in this new role, Rob will focus his efforts on realizing the full potential of Healthgrades.com and the Marketplace division, placing renewed emphasis on differentiating providers on the basis of satisfaction, experience and outcomes, and soon cost -- in order to guide consumers to the right doctor, right hospital and right care,” said Norm Alpert, Chairman of the Board, Healthgrades and Co-President and Founding Partner, Vestar Capital Partners.

Most recently, Mr. Willford served as SVP and GM of U.S. Commercial Solutions at IQVIA, delivering technology and advanced analytic solutions to enable commercial capabilities of life sciences organizations. Throughout his tenure at IQVIA, Jovan served in a variety of key leadership positions focused on analytics and technology innovation, including Senior Vice President & Global Head of Clinical Functional Service Provider (FSP) across 72 countries, global head of the industry-defining Quintiles-IMS merger and launching of innovative real-world evidence business units in North America and Asia. Previously, Mr. Willford served as a consultant at Booz & Company, Katzenbach Partners, and Accenture.

About Healthgrades:

At Healthgrades, we help millions of consumers find and connect with the right doctor, right hospital, and right care. Healthgrades.com is the leading marketplace connecting patients and providers. We make healthcare more accessible and transparent for consumers by differentiating providers on the basis of patient satisfaction, physician experience and hospital outcomes. Our Healthgrades Platform division works with the nation’s leading health systems to improve patient engagement and strengthen physician alignment, driving measurable financial outcomes. Hg Mercury is a comprehensive data and software as a services platform that delivers insights and communications solutions which drive patient engagement and physician alignment and integrate seamlessly with the health system’s broader MarTech stack and enterprise ecosystem. At Healthgrades, better health gets a head start.



Jen Newman

[email protected]

Liz Austin

[email protected]

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IRI Announces Google Executive and CPG Advertising Leader Kirk Perry as Next President and CEO

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--IRI®, a fast-growing, innovative, global provider of technology, data, and predictive analytics for the consumer, retail, and media sectors, today announced the appointment of Kirk Perry, Google’s President of Global Client & Agency Solutions, as President and CEO and a member of its Board of Directors, effective May 17, 2021. Mr. Perry succeeds Andrew Appel, who has successfully led a transformation of IRI for nearly a decade. Mr. Appel will remain an Advisor to the Company and member of the Board of Directors.

Mr. Perry joins IRI from Google, where he has served as President of Global Client & Agency Solutions since 2013. In that role, Mr. Perry was responsible for driving Google's global revenue with the world’s largest advertisers and advertising agencies, helping the company’s biggest global partners grow their businesses more effectively and efficiently. Prior to joining Google, Mr. Perry spent more than two decades at Procter & Gamble (P&G) in leadership and marketing roles, including most recently as President of P&G Global Family Care, a multi-billion dollar global business which included the Bounty, Charmin and Puffs brands. He also served as Vice President of P&G U.S. Operations and North America Marketing, P&G’s biggest region, with responsibilities that included oversight of the region’s marketing and sales operations organizations. Mr. Perry serves on the Boards of The J.M. Smucker Company and e.l.f. Cosmetics.

“The IRI team, under the leadership of Andrew Appel since 2012, has transformed the Company and developed an excellent track record of partnering with clients to leverage data, technology and cutting-edge ideas for accelerated speed of insight generation, helping clients achieve better business results," said Jeffrey Ansell, Chairman of IRI. "On behalf of the Company and Board of Directors, I'd like to thank Andrew for his outstanding contributions and lasting impact. I'm delighted to welcome Kirk as IRI's next President and CEO. He's an impressive, well-respected leader whose background makes him uniquely suited to understand both the evolving needs of our clients and the power of harnessing data, insights and technology to enable better decision making and superior performance."

Mr. Perry said, “I am honored to lead IRI and its immensely talented team. Having managed and supported some of the world’s largest consumer brands in both the consumer packaged goods and technology industries, I have deep appreciation for IRI’s advanced capabilities and its critical role as an insights leader in the industry amidst a dynamic and evolving consumer and marketing landscape. I look forward to building on IRI’s success, market position, and competitive advantages to deepen its connection with clients, ensuring the Company becomes an even more valuable partner to companies seeking to drive growth.”

“It has been a great privilege to lead this incredible company for nearly a decade and work alongside the most talented, hard-working and good-hearted colleagues,” said Mr. Appel. “I’m tremendously proud of what the IRI team has accomplished to date, and I am certain that the Company’s best years are ahead as IRI builds on its strong momentum. I look forward to contributing to this future as an Advisor and Director while ensuring a smooth transition. I’m confident IRI will be in terrific hands with Kirk, given his impressive track record of client leadership, deep experience in technology and media and passion for people.”

Over the last decade under Mr. Appel's leadership, IRI has undergone a significant transformation of its technology, data and predictive analytics offerings to become the insights partner of choice for leading retailers and CPG manufacturers. Since 2013, the Company has more than doubled revenue. Other key company accomplishments during this time include democratizing Liquid Data, which has become the industry’s leading technology, automation and insights platform; expanding the world’s largest repository of anonymized consumer data; creating the IRI partner ecosystem; transforming IRI’s relationships with retailers; launching a media business; pioneering solutions that leverage AI and machine learning; and strengthening the Company’s ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, including launching efforts to provide pro bono services to minority-owned CPG start-ups.

About the IRI Partner Ecosystem

IRI fundamentally believes that delivering differentiated growth for clients requires deep, highly integrated partnering with a variety of best-of-breed companies. As such, IRI works closely with a broad range of industry leaders across multiple industries and sectors to create innovative joint solutions, services and access to capabilities to help its clients more effectively collaborate and compete in their various markets and exceed their growth objectives. IRI is committed to its partnership philosophy and continues to actively enhance its open ecosystem of partners through alliances, joint ventures, acquisitions and affiliations. The IRI Partner Ecosystem includes such leading companies as 84.51°, Adobe, The Boston Consulting Group, Comscore, Data Plus Math, Experian, GfK, Gigwalk, Google, Ipsos, Mastercard Advisors, MaxPoint, Omnicom, Oracle, Pinterest, Research Now, Simulmedia, SPINS, Survey Sampling International, Univision, Viant, Yieldbot and others.

About IRI

IRI is a leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights that help CPG, OTC health care organizations, retailers, financial services and media companies grow their businesses. A confluence of major external events — a change in consumer buying habits, big data coming into its own, advanced analytics and personalized consumer activation — is leading to a seismic shift in drivers of success in all industries. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, all integrated on an on-demand, cloud-based technology platform, IRI is empowering the personalization revolution, helping to guide its more than 5,000 clients around the world in their quests to remain relentlessly relevant, capture market share, connect with consumers, collaborate with key constituents and deliver market-leading growth. For more information, visit www.iriworldwide.com.


IRI Contact:
Shelley Hughes
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1 312.474.3675

Logo for Veritas collabrative.

Vestar Portfolio Company, Veritas Collaborative, Announces Merger with The Emily Program

ST. PAUL, Minn. and DURHAM, N.C., Feb. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative, two of the nation's leading eating disorders programs, are proud to announce that they are joining forces in a merger of their two strong organizations. Both programs are known for their warm and authentic care for people of all ages and genders across the array of eating disorders diagnoses and industry-leading support for quality standards. The Emily Program and Veritas will retain their brands in their respective markets across the Northwest, Midwest, and Southeast and remain committed to maintaining the highest clinical integrity and standards of care and expanding access to care. The merger is expected to close within 60 days.   

"We are so pleased to be part of growing access to care for individuals and families dealing with these treatable, life-threatening illnesses," said Dave Willcutts, The Emily Program's CEO. "Our two companies together will set the standard for comprehensive care from outpatient through inpatient to equip clients and families with the understanding, interventions, and ongoing support they need to achieve recovery. We believe recovery from these fierce illnesses is rooted in relationships, and we are honored to be a part of people's journey to recovery."

"When we founded Veritas, we were guided by a vision to collaboratively increase access to quality care with unyielding passion, and now Veritas has become a health care system serving patients nationally," said Stacie McEntyre, Veritas' founder and vice chair of the Veritas board. "I am delighted that we've arrived at this exciting moment in our organizations' history — the joining of Veritas Collaborative and The Emily Program, to combine our passion to bring more care to more people and continue to drive the standard of care in eating disorders treatment. Together, we are stronger."

Dave Willcutts will serve as the CEO of the merged company to be headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. Veritas CEO Mike Browder will transition to the board of directors of the merged company. Chris Durbin, chairman of the Veritas board, will serve as chairman for the merged company, and Dirk Miller, founder of The Emily Program, will serve as founding executive chairman.

Collectively, The Emily Program and Veritas currently have 20 locations across Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, with outpatient individual, group, and family services; intensive outpatient programs; partial hospital programs; residential programs; and inpatient care — with various gender-inclusive programs focused on addressing the needs of children, adolescents, and adults. 

About The Emily Program
The Emily Program's vision is a world of peaceful relationships with food, weight and body image, where everyone with an eating disorder can experience recovery. The Emily Program, headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, was founded in 1993 by Dirk Miller, Ph.D., L.P., after his sister Emily recovered from an eating disorder. Recognizing that one size does not fit all, The Emily Program provides exceptional, individualized care for people with eating disorders of all ages and genders leading to recovery from eating disorders, incorporating individual, group, and family therapy, nutrition, psychiatry, medical care, yoga, and more — with locations in Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call 1-888-EMILY-77 or visit emilyprogram.com.

About Veritas Collaborative
Veritas Collaborative, based in Durham, North Carolina, is a national healthcare system for the treatment of eating disorders, with locations in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. Veritas provides a full continuum of care for individuals of all ages, including inpatient, acute residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, outpatient care, and multidisciplinary eating disorders (MED) assessment clinics, in a gender-diverse and inclusive environment. Veritas is determined to change the eating disorders field so that all persons with eating disorders, their families, and their communities have access to best-practice care, ongoing support through our alumni and family advocacy programs, and helpful resources on the journey to recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call 855-875-5812 or visit veritascollaborative.com.

The Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers packaging.

Vestar VII Announces Acquisition of Dr. Praeger's

NEW YORK, Jan. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Vestar Capital Partners, a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm, announced today that it has made a majority growth investment into Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods, a fast-growing brand specializing in delicious, nutritious plant-based frozen and refrigerated foods made from simple ingredients. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Dr. Praeger's has been a pioneer in the better-for-you food space for more than 25 years. Founded in 1994 by two heart surgeons with a mission to provide nutritious, delicious and convenient frozen foods, Dr. Praeger's offers a range of vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, soy free, Kosher, and non-GMO foods. The company's vegetable-focused lines of veggie burgers, meat alternative burgers, sausages and nuggets, kids Littles, appetizers, snacks, breakfasts and sides are sold in leading food retailers, in stores and online, nationwide.

Headquartered in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, Dr. Praeger's is led by second generation family members Larry Praeger, CEO, and Adam Somberg, President, who will be continuing in their current roles and will remain significant investors in the company.

"We are extremely proud of the high growth better-for-you food brand our families have built," said Mr. Praeger. "When our fathers co-founded the company 25 years ago, they were truly innovators. In today's competitive market, our partnership with Vestar will help provide the financial backing, industry relationships and category expertise to continue to build on our momentum."

"The U.S. better-for-you market has never been stronger, and we are excited to partner with a company that has been at the forefront of this trend and knows the market intimately," said Winston Song, Managing Director and Co-Head of Consumer at Vestar. "Larry and Adam have done a tremendous job building the company and developing new products that speak to today's consumers – flexitarians, vegetarians, vegans and those who seek a healthier lifestyle. We look forward to partnering with the Praeger and Somberg families as well as the senior management team to strategically accelerate growth."

"With Vestar's support, the company aims to launch further product innovations that will continue to deliver healthy, great tasting foods at an attractive price," said Mr. Somberg. "We are fortunate to have some of the most loyal customers in the industry, but with more consumers eating in and looking for better food choices, the timing couldn't be better to team with Vestar to explore ways to expand the brand."

As part of Vestar's investment, Jeffrey Ansell, a 35+ year consumer industry veteran and Senior Advisor to Vestar, will join the Dr. Praeger's board as Chairman. He is currently Chairman of Information Resources Inc. (IRI), a data, insights, and information services company serving the consumer products industry. Mr. Ansell was previously Chairman and CEO of Sun Products, CEO of Pinnacle Foods, and prior to that spent 25 years in leadership positions at Procter & Gamble.

"Larry and Adam have inspired and led an impressive company featuring innovative, healthier food products that align with choices today's consumers are seeking," said Mr. Ansell. "There's great opportunity to build on this strong foundation and grow the Dr. Praeger's brand through increased awareness, trial, distribution and continued innovation. Vestar has a long history of partnering with companies to strengthen these fundamentals and help position them for greater success."

Dr. Praeger's marks the most recent investment in Vestar's long history of investing behind family and founder-owned businesses focused on better-for-you food. The firm's current food investments include Simple Mills, an innovative, market-leading better-for-you cracker, cookie and baking mix brand in the natural and organic channel, Roland Foods, a leading importer and supplier of specialty foods, Nonni's, a leading manufacturer of premium artisanal cookies and baked goods, and Presence Marketing, the leading national sales broker dedicated exclusively to representing natural and organic food, beverage and personal care brands.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel and Piper Sandler & Co. acted as financial advisor to Vestar. Giannuzzi Lewendon served as legal counsel and J.P. Morgan acted as financial advisor to Dr. Praeger's.

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, the company remains family-owned and operated. Dr. Praeger's is a leader in the all-natural, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and kosher frozen food categories and has the #1 selling SKU, California Veggie Burger, at Whole Foods as well as a wide range of products including Veggie Burgers, Bowls, Cakes, Puffs and Hash Browns, sustainable Seafood items, kids Littles and more. For more information visit www.drpraegers.com.

About Vestar Capital Partners
Vestar Capital Partners is a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm specializing in management buyouts and growth capital investments. Vestar invests and collaborates with incumbent management teams and private owners to build long-term enterprise value, with a focus on Consumer, Business & Technology Services and Healthcare. Since its founding in 1988, Vestar funds have invested $7 billion in 83 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.

Media Contacts:
Lambert & Co.
Jennifer Hurson
(845) 507-0571
[email protected]

Caroline Luz
(203) 656-2829
[email protected]

Logo for Woodstream.

Vestar Capital Partners Agrees to Sell Woodstream to Bansk Group

NEW YORK and LANCASTER, Pa., Oct. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Vestar Capital Partners, a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Woodstream, a leading manufacturer and marketer of branded pest and animal control products, to Bansk Group. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Woodstream is a North-American leader in pest and animal control, electronic animal containment, and lawn and garden products, under brands such as Victor®, Terro®, Dynatrap®, Safer®, Havahart®, Mosquito Magnet®, Perky-Pet®, and Zareba®. Its products are sold at more than 100,000 retail locations and online. Headquartered in Lancaster, PA, Woodstream has manufacturing operations in Lititz, PA and Knoxville, TN and a broad distribution footprint with strategically located facilities across North America.

During Vestar's ownership, the Company significantly increased its strategic focus on the pest and animal control segment of its portfolio, which included divesting and discontinuing certain non-core assets, and acquiring DynaTrap, a leading provider of flying insect traps, last year. Under the leadership of CEO Miguel Nistal and his management team, who will remain with Woodstream post-close, the Company invested behind meaningful operational improvements, developed industry-leading innovation, and enhanced its e-commerce capabilities.

"Woodstream has achieved double-digit growth in sales and has become a more strategic, consumer-driven organization over the last five years with Vestar's support, but there's still more to be done," said Mr. Nistal. "Our strategy of investing behind product innovation has put the company on a strong growth trajectory, and I am grateful to the Woodstream management team, our Board of Directors and the Vestar partners for their dedication to the company. It's an exciting time at Woodstream, and we look forward to our next chapter under Bansk's ownership."

"We view Woodstream as an attractive long term platform in the growing and on-trend pest and animal control category," said Brian O'Connor, Senior Partner and Chief Investment Officer at Bansk. "We look forward to working with Miguel and the management team to accelerate the investment behind the business to take advantage of the compelling market opportunity."

"Miguel and his management team provided expert leadership that helped transform Woodstream from a disparate collection of assets into a strategic portfolio of branded pest and animal control solutions," said Winston Song, Managing Director at Vestar. "We believe Woodstream will continue to flourish under Miguel and the Bansk Group, and we wish them the best of luck." 

Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as the legal advisor and Goldman Sachs and William Blair co-led the transaction for Woodstream and Vestar.  Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as the legal advisor and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC as the financial advisor to Bansk, and Ares Management Corporation provided the committed financing for the transaction.

About Woodstream
Woodstream is a leading manufacturer and marketer of a broad portfolio of branded pest control, electronic animal containment, and lawn & garden products, under brands such as Victor®, Terro®, DynaTrap®, Safer®, Havahart®, Mosquito Magnet®, Perky-Pet®, and Zareba® , among others. The company's products, which have leading market share positions within their respective segments, are sold at more than 100,000 retail locations and to professional pest control providers throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other international markets. For more information, please visit https://www.woodstream.com/.

About Bansk Group
Bansk is a private investment group focused on growth companies and has approximately $1.5 billion in assets under management. Bansk was founded by Bart Becht, the former CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, who is also a Senior Partner and the Chairman of the Group.

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 its founding in 1988, Vestar funds have invested $7 billion in 83 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.

Lambert & Co.
Jennifer Hurson
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Caroline Luz
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