After Quick Hold, Incline Exits BFG
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After Quick Hold, Incline Exits BFG

BFG sells more than 15,000 SKUs of containers, growing media, chemicals, fertilizer, seed and greenhouse equipment

SOURCE: iStock Photo

Incline Equity Partners has sold BFG Supply, a distributor of horticulture and lawn & garden products, to Pamplona Capital Management.

BFG sells more than 15,000 SKUs of third-party and branded products – including containers, growing media, chemicals, fertilizer, seed and greenhouse equipment – to professional growers, lawn & garden centers, and other green industry participants.

BFG was founded in 1972 by John Gander and is headquartered east of Cleveland in Burton, Ohio. Cardinal Ventures acquired a controlling interest in the company in 2000 and in 2010 BFG was acquired by Tricor Pacific with backing from PNC Financial Services. Incline acquired BFG from Tricor Pacific in January 2020.

BFG has been very acquisitive over its history with the buys of numerous companies. Under Incline ownership, BFG completed the add-on acquisitions of L&L Nursery Supply, a San Bernardino, California-based distributor of lawn and garden products, in March 2021; DeCloet Greenhouse Manufacturing, a Simcoe, Ontario-based provider of greenhouse equipment and structural components, in July 2021; and Gard’N-Wise Distributors, a Colorado-based distributor of lawn, garden, greenhouse and landscape products, in December 2020.

Today, BFG has more than 250 employees and operates 7 distribution facilities with a combined 632,000 square feet. According to the company, it is one of the three largest greenhouse, nursery, and lawn & garden distributors in the country.

“We are proud to have worked closely with the management team to drive significant growth at BFG,” said Tom Ritchie, a partner at Incline. “During our ownership, we completed three highly strategic acquisitions and drove significant organic revenue growth. The acquisitions extended BFG’s geographic footprint and added meaningful service offerings like greenhouse design and manufacturing.”

“Incline was an active partner that helped us strategically transform the business,” said BFG’s CEO Dave Daily. “Their technology expertise allowed us to make key investments in the build-out of our virtual trade show booking system and enhanced our e-commerce capabilities. They also supported the expansion of the management team with the additions of a chief financial officer and chief revenue officer. The company is very well-positioned for the future.”

Earlier BFG add-ons acquisitions, closed under its prior private equity owners, include Michigan-based Commerce Corp. in 2013, Virginia-based Wetsel Inc. in 2011, Michigan-based Kalamazoo Co-op in 2007, Minnesota-based MDM Horticultural Supplies in 2006, Pennsylvania-based Brighton By-Products in 2003, and Illinois-based J.G. Smith & Co. in 2002.

Harris Williams was the financial advisor to BFG on this transaction. “Through a distinct focus on customer service and leveraging investments in technology, BFG has established itself as a clear leader in green product distribution and serves a diverse base of clients across the industry. The company thrived in partnership with Incline, and we are excited to watch BFG’s next chapter unfold under the guidance of its top-notch management team and Pamplona,” said Brian Lucas, a managing director at Harris Williams. The Harris Williams deal team included Mr. Lucas, Director Graham Gillam, Vice President Pete Morgan and Associate Michael Tuohey.

“High-quality specialty distribution companies continue to generate significant interest from investors driven by opportunities to grow both organically and through acquisitions. Additionally, BFG’s position within the green industry provided a unique opportunity to capitalize on strong tailwinds in both the traditional lawn and garden market and the rapidly growing controlled environment agriculture markets,” added Mr. Gillam.

Pittsburgh-based Incline Equity was formed in 2011 and is led by its senior partners, Jack Glover, Justin Bertram, and Leon Rubinov. In January 2020, Incline closed its fifth fund, Incline Equity Partners V LP, with $1.2 billion of capital. Incline generally invests in growing companies with enterprise values of $25 million to $750 million.

Pamplona, the buyer of BFG Supply, makes direct private equity and fund-of-funds investments. The firm, founded in 2005 with offices in London, New York City, Boston, Madrid and Malta, is investing from its fifth private equity fund, Pamplona Capital Partners V LP, which closed in 2017 with $3.2 billion of capital.

© 2021 Private Equity Professional | November 11, 2021

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