August 5, 2020, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. WM Partners, a certified diverse-owned private equity firm focused on investing in lower-middle market companies and driving value creation in the health and wellness sector, today announced that HPH II Investments Master Fund, LP together with its related entities (“HPH II”), through its wholly owned entity, entered into a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Great Lakes Gelatin Company (“Great Lakes”), a collagen and gelatin products company consisting of a brand and wholesale/bulk business based in Grayslake, IL. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction has been approved by both companies and is subject to customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close on or before August 31, 2020.
Great Lakes, a family-run business with a rich heritage dating back to 1922, was founded with the simple mission of “helping people live healthier lives by providing top quality collagen-based health products at a fair price.” The Company sells collagen powder that is grass-fed &pasture raised, allegern-free, MSG-free, Kosher-certified, Keto-friendly, and Paleo-friendly, attracting health conscious consumers. Great Lakes products come in various flavors and some products have added-ingredients targeting health and beauty, cooking, and pre and post workout enthusiasts. The Company sells its products through the natural, food, drug, and mass channels as well as through e-commerce channels, specifically through Amazon and its own website.
HPH II is focused on acquiring lower-middle market companies with leading brands in the health and wellness sector and growing the companies through an operational buy and build value creation strategy. HPH II is focused on the following subsectors: functional foods, natural personal care and natural over-the-counter remedies – fast-growing, defensive and highly fragmented subsectors. These strong fundamentals are appealing to WM Partners’ value creation strategy as HPH II aims to consolidate multiple complementary brands into several platforms, and grow and scale them operationally so they become attractive to strategic buyers. The acquisition of Great Lakes is another testament that WM Partners through its own relationships continues to source attractive, privately-owned opportunities – having built the relationship with the founder of Great Lakes for several years. It also demonstrates WM Partners’ ability to identify high-growth categories such as collagen which is expected to continue to grow at over 15% YOY past 2021, according to Nutrition Business Journal, and create value in a category that WM Partners has experience in with the acquisition and disposition of NeoCell, a collagen company acquired in Fund I.
“We are excited to work with the Great Lakes team and help them grow the brand and further expand its reach into the e-commerce and mass channels. We have identified operational and commercial synergies which we will execute on as we look to build our first platform in the functional foods subsector,” said Jose Minski, co-founder of WM Partners. “We are also excited about the resiliency of the health and wellness industry despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and the growth we are seeing in the collagen category. Moreover, we are proud about the ability of our team to adapt to this challenging environment and execute deals during these extraordinary times,” he added.
“We are thrilled to partner with WM Partners, a team that has decades of operational experience in the health and wellness industry and that knows the collagen category very well, said Bob Busscher, President of Great Lakes. “We have known the team for several years, and are confident that they are the right strategic and operational partner for our brand,” he added.
No financial advisor served on this transaction. King & Spalding LLP served as legal advisor for WM Partners. Ray & Glick LLC served as legal advisor for Great Lakes.