WilMar wants to 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 is merging it with another Highview portfolio company, Randall Foods will focus 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 chief executive of Los Angeles-based investment bank Greif & Co., which represented WilMar in the transaction, said the merger makes strategic sense.

“It looks like we’re headed for a recession if we haven’t already, and both of these companies are focused on affordable protein. In the case of Randall Foods, most of their revenue comes from selling chicken or poultry, which is pretty inexpensive protein… And in the case of WilMar, most of their revenue comes from selling ground beef… That’s a lot cheaper than steak or chops.” said Griffin. “So when you put these two companies together, I think they’re in a perfect position to weather the storm of the upcoming recession in a big way.”

Greif added that bringing the two companies together was a strategically smart move, and combined, from a size standpoint, the companies would be a clear leader in Southern California.
Upon closing of the transaction, Marty Evanson, WilMar’s founder and CEO, plans to retire. All other members of WilMar’s management team will continue to lead the company in their current roles.

“I started WilMar as a local meat supplier to fill an unmet market need. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our team as we have evolved into one of the region’s leading protein suppliers and a preferred partner of choice for customers looking for superior service and quality in their ground beef,” said Evanson in a news publication. “Our team is very excited about the merger and is pleased that Randall Foods shares the same business ethic and focus on putting our customers and employees first.”

Other than Evanson’s exit, Greif said there will be no downsizing at either company.
Greif said WilMar is capacity constrained, meaning the company has exhausted the amount of revenue and tonnage it could bring through its facility.

“(WilMar) will immediately soak up that excess capacity,” Greif said. “They will definitely continue to operate at all three plants and some of WilMar’s production will be moved to one of the Randall plants where they have room to grow. This allows WilMar to grow much faster than it would have otherwise.”
He added that the merger makes a lot of sense as 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 that establishes the combined company as a one-stop shop for customers’ protein needs,” said Steve Russell, senior portfolio manager at Highview Capital, in a statement. “The new company will benefit from an improved product mix and increased operational capacity, allowing the company to continue to expand and provide exceptional customer service.”

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

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

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

The two companies’ customers, whether grocery stores or restaurants, can now source both ground beef and poultry through one company, an option not previously available to them.
“WilMar had his customer group in supermarkets and restaurants, and Randall had his customer group. Now Randall, which sold poultry to its customers, can sell ground beef courtesy of WilMar, and WilMar, which sells beef to its customers, can now sell poultry,” Greif continued. “WilMar sold raw materials…while Randall had some of their proteins prepared. Now (WilMar) will be able to do that.”

Greif & Co. was relegated to WilMar’s owners when Evanson began selling the company to ease his retirement.
“We represented them and put together an information package about the company and went to the market and held talks with various interested parties,” says Greif. “Randall Foods got away with the brass ring, but that’s because they grabbed it. They were the best fit for WilMar employees and customers and also offered an attractive price.”

Investment bankers naturally strive to get the best deal for all parts of a company, not just for shareholders but for employees and customers, Greif said.
“I think we’ve done that with Randall, and I think the two companies will thrive together and grow in this market,” continued Greif. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they expanded to a fourth facility.”

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