DENNIS Uniform, a portfolio company of SBJ Capital, has expanded into the Canadian uniform market with the add-on acquisition of Top Marks.
DENNIS is a designer and manufacturer of school uniforms – including polos, khakis, shorts, and skirts – that serves over 2,000 schools and 370,000 students per year through its website and through a national network of more than 30 retail locations operating in 20 states.
The company, led by CEO Gary Serra, is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. DENNIS, founded in 1920 by the Shipley family, first produced nursing uniforms, then supplied apparel and linens to soldiers shipping out of Portland during World War II.
SBJ, in partnership with the founding Shipley family, acquired DENNIS in November 2017. In March 2022, DENNIS acquired Mills Uniform Company, a school uniform manufacturer with products that include shirts, blouses, polos, dresses, and sweaters. Mills Uniform serves over 125 private schools in the United States from its seven retail stores in California, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee and through its online store.
Like Mills Uniform, Top Marks is a school uniform manufacturer that serves more than 150 private schools in Canada. The company, led by owner and President Howard Vineberg, was founded in 1986 and its manufacturing, distribution, and headquarters facilities are located in Montreal.
“We are absolutely thrilled to join forces with DENNIS,” said Mr. Vineberg. “We both started as family-owned businesses, and now on a combined basis share over 135 years of experience in supplying top-quality uniforms and outstanding customer service to schools across North America. We are honored that DENNIS chose Top Marks as its entry point into the Canadian school uniform market.”
“We have always admired and respected Top Marks as a leader in the school uniform business in Canada”, said Mr. Serra. “We are honored to now work together, learn from one another, and share best practices across our businesses to achieve our collective goal of being best-in-class.” From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Serra was a vice president at Toronto-headquartered McCarthy Uniforms.
“Given Gary’s prior experience in the Canadian school uniform market, we’ve long discussed the attractiveness of growing in Canada and how best to enter the market,” said Patrick Muller, a vice president at SBJ Capital. “In Top Marks, we believe DENNIS has the perfect entry point given its reputation and respected operation. Following our partnership with Mills Uniform earlier this year, SBJ Capital and DENNIS are excited about the sizable North American school uniform platform we’ve built and the growth opportunities ahead of us.”
SBJ invests from $10 million to $50 million in consumer, business services and healthcare services companies that have up to $100 million in revenue and EBITDA from $3 million to $15 million. SBJ was founded by Gus Spanos, Tom Barber and Bill Jesse and has offices near San Francisco in Walnut Creek, California.
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