WilMar will merge with Randall Foods

Highview Capital, a Brentwood-based private equity firm, announced last week that it has acquired Jobbers Meat Packing Co., known as WilMar, a ground beef processor, and that it will merge with another Highview portfolio company, Randall Foods, which focuses on chicken products. Both companies are based in Vernon.

The combination creates a protein powerhouse that will be a major supplier of hamburgers and chicken to grocery stores and restaurants in the Northwest and Southwest.
Lloyd Greif, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based investment bank Greif & Co., which represented WilMar in the deal, said the merger makes strategic sense.

“It looks like we’re headed for a recession, if we’re not there already, and these two companies are focused on affordable protein.” In the case of Randall Foods, most of their revenue comes from selling chicken or poultry, which is a fairly cheap protein… And in the case of WilMar, most of their revenue comes from selling ground beef.. . It’s a lot cheaper than steaks or chops,” Greif said. “So when you put these two companies together, I think they’re perfectly positioned to weather the storm of the coming recession in style.”

Greif added that it was a strategically smart move to bring the two companies together and that the combined companies would be the clear leader in Southern California in terms of size.
After the deal closes, Marty Evanson, founder and CEO of WilMar, plans to retire. All other members of WilMar’s management team will continue with the company in their current roles.

“I founded WilMar as a local meat supplier to fill an unmet need in the market. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our team as we have grown to become one of the leading protein suppliers in the region and become the primary partner of choice for customers looking for great service and quality in their ground beef,” Evanson said in a news release exemption. “Our team is extremely excited about the merger and we are pleased that Randall Foods has the same business ethics and focus on putting our customers and employees first.”

Other than Evanson’s departure, Greif said there will be no layoffs at either company.
Greif said WilMar’s capacity is limited, meaning the company has exhausted the amount of revenue and tonnage it can put through its facility.

“(WilMar) will suck up that excess capacity right away,” Greif explained. “They will definitely continue to operate all three facilities and some of the WilMar production will move to one of the Randall facilities where they have room to grow.” This will make it easier for WilMar to grow much faster than would otherwise be the case.”
He added that the merger makes a lot of sense because the two companies complement each other, not only because of the type of proteins they work with, but also because of their manufacturing footprint.

“The combination of WilMar and Randall is a clear strategic fit, establishing the combined company as a one-stop shop for clients’ protein needs,” said Steve Russell, senior portfolio manager at Highview Capital, in a statement. “The new entity will benefit from an improved product mix as well as increased operational capacity, allowing the company to continue to expand and offer exceptional customer service.”

A truck at the WilMar facility in Vernon. The company merged with Randall Foods.

Randall Foods partners with grocery customers like Ralph’s to provide all types of processed and ready-to-cook meats. Highview acquired Randall in February 2021 and has since expanded its management team and renewed capital expenditure investments.

WilMar is a leading processor and packager of premium meat products, including ground beef. Founded in 1978, the company’s customers include grocers, food service providers and wholesale distributors. WilMar’s supermarket customers include Albertsons, Safeway and Smart & Final, and restaurant customers include Chili’s, Del Taco and Maggiano’s.

Customers of both companies, whether grocers or restaurants, can now go through one company for both ground meat and poultry, an option not available to them before.
“WilMar had his group of customers in supermarkets and restaurants, and Randall had his group of customers. Now Randall, which sold poultry to its customers, can now sell ground beef courtesy of WilMar, and WilMar, which sells beef to its customers, can now sell poultry,” Greif continued. “WilMar was selling raw goods…while Randall had prepared some of their proteins. Now (WilMar) will be able to do that.”

Greif & Co. was targeted at WilMar’s owners when Evanson began considering selling the company to facilitate his retirement.
“We represented them and put together an information package for the company and went to the market and had discussions with various stakeholders,” Greif said. “Randall Foods came out with the brass ring, but that’s because they reached for it. They were the best fit for WilMar’s employees and customers and also offered an attractive price.”

Investment bankers, of course, strive to get the best deal for all constituents of a company, not just shareholders, but also employees and customers, Greif said.
“I think we’ve done that with Randall, and I think the two companies will prosper together and I think they’ll grow in this market,” Greif continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them expand to a fourth facility.”

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