GRAND RAPIDS — Roskam Baking Co., the quietly massive operation that helped put West Michigan on the map as a center for food manufacturing, has sold to new private equity owners after nearly a century as a family owned business.
Chicago-based Entrepreneurial Equity Partners announced Tuesday that it had acquired Roskam Baking, which generates more than $600 million in annual revenues, and merged it with existing portfolio company Organic Milling.
Roskam operates a diversified bakery operation with more than 2 million square feet of real estate, including manufacturing, warehouse and offices at six locations in West Michigan, where the company runs more than 30 manufacturing and packaging lines. As of 2019, the company employed more than 2,000 people in the region.
The Roskams had prior dealings with Entrepreneurial Equity Partners Managing Partner Mark Burgett, who formerly worked at Wind Point Partners and acquired two businesses from Roskam Baking to form Hearthside Food Solutions LLC.
Burgett kept in touch with Bob Roskam over the years, culminating in Roskam reaching out about selling the family business to Entrepreneurial Equity Partners, which goes by the moniker e2p.
“I sought out Mark and the e2p team for a third time because of their deep expertise in contract manufacturing and the reliability they’ve shown as a partner to employees, customers, and the Grand Rapids community,” Roskam said in a statement.
The fourth-generation family business got its start in Kalamazoo in 1923, where Marinus Roskam and his brother Arie established a doughnut shop and grocery. Within a couple of years, the Roskams acquired a food manufacturer and moved to Grand Rapids, where the company continued to grow its bakery business, according to past reports.
In the early 1970s, Roskam Baking dove into private label manufacturing, namely with its Rothbury Farms Inc. business, which specialized in croutons, stuffing and bread crumbs that it sold to retail, foodservice and industrial markets. By the mid 1980s, the company, under the direction of Bob Roskam, had invested heavily into making granola, bars, various snacks and prepared cereals.
The secretive company, which is known to buy buildings and keep the former owner’s signage up for years, manufactures products for the likes of Kellogg Co., General Mills and Frito-Lay, including the brand’s iconic Cracker Jack product. Roskam Baking’s current portfolio includes a range of frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable food products, and it has capabilities with specialized product manufacturing, such as for gluten-free and non-GMO products, according to a statement.
“For the past 100 years, my family has grown Roskam into a food manufacturing company with an industry-leading reputation for quality and reliability,” Roskam said in the statement. “I am confident e2p is the best partner to carry on our culture of excellence and long legacy of unmatched customer satisfaction.
“In many cases, our customers have entrusted Roskam’s adept management and special capabilities to meet their unique needs for multiple generations, and I believe e2p is worthy of that trust.”
Burgett said he and Roskam first met while vacationing in Costa Rica with their families and later became personal friends. They developed “meaningful mutual trust and respect, which in turn has ultimately led to three transactions that were consummated without the involvement of an investment banker,” Burgett added.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. New York City-based Latham & Watkins LLP served as legal adviser to Entrepreneurial Equity Partners in the transaction.
Entrepreneurial Equity Partners, which Burgett co-founded with veteran food industry executive CJ Fraleigh, closed in May 2021 on its inaugural fund, which had $423 million in commitments. The company targets investments in the food and consumer packaged goods industries with at least $50 million in revenue that specialize in food and beverage brands, private label and contract manufacturing and foodservice, among others.
With the latest deal for Roskam Baking, Burgett has effectively transacted the entirety of the Grand Rapids-based food manufacturer, albeit while working for different companies.
Entrepreneurial Equity Partners plans to maintain the Roskam Baking name, “which has an iconic reputation in the industry,” according to Burgett.
The new owners also expect to keep the management team in place “to drive the next phase of growth at Roskam” while also being mindful of the company’s legacy, e2p Vice President Kevin Henneck stated. “(W)e look forward to continuing the tradition that the Roskam family started nearly 100 years ago, which is manufacturing high-quality food products and making a positive impact on the Grand Rapids business community.”
Going forward, the private equity firm plans to seek out additional growth opportunities, including add-on deals.
According to Burgett: “We plan to execute our consistent and repeatable playbook: growing the business by executing specific and identified initiatives to drive organic growth alongside existing and new customers and by pursuing strategic, transformative acquisitions that will enhance our manufacturing capabilities and expand our geographic reach.”