Mills Fleet Farm operates 35 stores located in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota. The stores sell hunting and fishing equipment & licenses; small appliances; housewares; automotive goods; apparel; hardware; lawn and garden supplies; paint; pet supplies; sporting goods; tools; and farm supplies. Most locations also have a tire center, convenience store and car wash. The company has a main distribution center and a buying/support office in Appleton, WI; a warehouse in Hudson, WI; and an accounting office in Brainerd, MN (www.fleetfarm.com).
Mills Fleet Farm has a number of company owned brands including Road Runner(batteries and tires); Big Max (trailers and automotive supplies); Field and Forest (clothing and footwear); Fleet Boutique (women’s clothing); Dura-Built (farm supplies); Milkhouse (dairy supplies); Farm Life (animal supplements); Sprout (animal feed); Mills Fleet Farm (candy and nuts); Farm Toys (toy and accessories); and Huldra (AR-15 platform rifles and accessories).
Mills Fleet Farm was founded in 1955 by Stewart Mills Sr. along with his sons, Henry Mills II and Stewart Mills Jr. The family has been actively looking for a buyer for the company since October 2015.
“We have decided to partner with KKR in order to take Mills Fleet Farm to the next level of growth for the future,” said Co-Presidents Henry Mills II and Stewart Mills, Jr. “We took great care in our approach to finding the right partner who shared our values and would preserve the legacy the Mills family has built after serving the Midwest over the last 60 years.”
Greene Holcomb Fisher (GHF) was the financial advisor to Mills Fleet Farm. The firm initiated the transaction and assisted in negotiations. GHF is active in middle market mergers and acquisitions, private placements and financial advisory services. Areas of specialization include consumer, food & agribusiness, healthcare, industrial products & services, business & education services, technology, and energy & infrastructure. The firm has offices in Minneapolis, Phoenix, Seattle and Atlanta (www.ghf.net).
“We are honored to have been selected to serve as financial advisor to Mills Fleet Farm,” said Kyle Crowe, Managing Director at GHF. “The Mills organization was founded on the values of honesty, integrity, hard work, service and loyalty, and the Mills family made it clear from the start that the welfare of the Mills Fleet Farm employees and the communities they serve would be of critical importance in finding the right partner.”
“We are proud to partner with Mills Fleet Farm, a highly differentiated brand in the Midwest and invest behind its continued growth,” said Nate Taylor, a member on KKR’s private equity team. “We anticipate investing significantly in the business, adding infrastructure, stores and local jobs.”
KKR (NYSE:KKR) makes private equity, fixed income and other investments in companies in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The firm has $90 billion in assets under management. KKR was founded in 1976 and in addition to its New York headquarters the firm has offices in Menlo Park, San Francisco, Houston, Washington DC, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Mumbai, Dubai and Sydney (www.kkr.com).
© 2016 PEPD • Private Equity’s Leading News Magazine • 3-1-16