Private equity firm takes stake in organic granola maker

CHICAGO — Entrepreneurial Equity Partners (e2p), a Chicago-based private equity firm focused on the food and consumer packaged goods industries, announced it has invested in San Dimas, Calif.-based Organic Milling Inc. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1960, Organic Milling is a contract manufacturer of “better-for-you” cereal, granola, snacks and ingredients. The company’s focus is on organic, non-GMO and gluten-free products, with its primary offerings including a variety of granolas and extruded items such as rice crisps, high-fiber twigs, flakes and coated puffs. Organic Milling operates three facilities in San Dimas, including an SQF Level 3-certified manufacturing facility.

“Through a partnership-based approach, Organic Milling offers customers a unique value proposition by providing the scale and efficiency required to compete in the marketplace, including the flexibility and customization desired to create a unique and differentiated product,” said Mark Burgett, managing partner at e2p. “We are thrilled to be working with the entire team at Organic Milling and look forward to driving further growth through customer and geographical expansion and additional product offerings.”

Wolfgang Buehler, chief executive officer of Organic Milling, added, “This partnership with e2p is exciting for Organic Milling. The company has continued to grow with our focus on organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free products. With customer demand for healthy and convenient food options rapidly increasing, Organic Milling is poised to reach new levels of growth. We are excited to capitalize on the e2p team’s experience and expertise in the food and consumer packaged goods industries, and together, we will continue building out our customer base and further driving growth.”

e2p earlier this year closed its inaugural fund, Entrepreneurial Equity Partners I (e2p I or Fund I), with $423 million in aggregate capital commitments. The e2p team is led by managing partners Mr. Burgett and CJ Fraleigh. Mr. Burgett has more than 20 years of private equity and finance experience. Prior to co-founding e2p he was a managing director at Chicago-based private equity firm Wind Point Partners, where he led investments in food and consumer products for 14 years. Prior to Wind Point, he had progressively senior roles in the investment banking groups at Morgan Stanley and Robert W. Baird. Mr. Fraleigh has more than 25 years of operating experience, including prior roles as chairman and chief executive officer of Shearer’s Foods, CEO of Sara Lee North America and vice president of colas at PepsiCo, Inc.

Mr. Burgett and Mr. Fraleigh are joined on the leadership team by Richard G. Scalise, a partner. Mr. Scalise’s career includes prior roles as chairman and CEO of Hearthside Food Solutions, president of Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, and president and chief operating officer of Conagra’s Refrigerated Foods Division. Mr. Burgett, Mr. Fraleigh and Mr. Scalise previously partnered together on several successful private equity investments.

In addition to Organic Milling, Fund I has invested in five platform investments to date, including Charcuterie Artisans (a producer of charcuterie and meats), Salm Partners (the largest US manufacturer of fully cooked sausages utilizing a differentiated, co-extrusion, cook-in-package manufacturing process), Sara Lee Frozen Bakery (a provider of frozen baked foods), World Food Holdings (a provider of authentic Mediterranean foods), and Ya Ya Foods (one of North America’s largest co-packers of aseptic food and beverage products).

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