Blackford Capital completes fifth portfolio exit

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Jeff Johnson Courtesy Blackford Capital

A local private equity firm sold its portfolio company Ellison Bakery to another investment firm.

Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital said Monday that it closed on the sale of Fort Wayne, Indiana-based portfolio company Ellison Bakery to Chicago-based Tilia Holdings, a private investment firm focused on the food supply chain.

The Ellis family, Promus Equity Partners, Concentric Equity Partners and Baird Principal Group partnered on the deal, with senior debt funding provided by Comerica Bank.

Martin Stein Courtesy Blackford Capital

Founded by Donald Ellis in 1945, Ellison Bakery is a manufacturer of cookie, snack bar, crunch and inclusion products for the industrial market, foodservice industry, and retail and private label space.

Blackford announced its initial investment in the industrial bakery in April 2017. This is Blackford’s fifth successful exit from among 15 platform companies.

“Since our initial investment, our team has been honored to partner with the Ellis family, Ellison Bakery’s management team and our esteemed group of co-investors to successfully grow and refine the company’s business model,” said Jeff Johnson, managing director of Blackford and former chairman of Ellison Bakery.

“The investments we made to expand its capabilities should position the company to accelerate and achieve its next phase of expansion. We have high confidence in the established leadership’s ability to realize their numerous growth initiatives.”

Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford, said his firm is “very pleased with the outcome of this investment, which yielded strong financial results for the business and our limited partners.”

“We are confident in the shared vision for the bakery going forward and look forward to seeing their future success, as we continue our commitment to supporting unique, alternative investments through both long-term and new relationships, even amid this new economic environment,” Stein said.

Added Andy Code, managing director of Chicago-based Promus Equity Partners: “It was a pleasure to co-invest alongside Blackford and support Ellison’s management team on its growth initiatives over the past few years of transition from sole family ownership to one with institutional backing. We wish our valued partners and the entire Ellison team all the best as they continue forward.”

Blackford Capital

Founded in 2000, Blackford is a private equity investment firm that makes majority control investments in founder- and family-owned, lower middle-market manufacturing, distribution and services companies.

Currently, Blackford has 10 portfolio companies.

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