Case studies

Below are some examples of recent Mason Wells investments across a number of industry sectors and transaction types.

Family Owned
Grand Rapids, MI
Packaging Materials & Converting

Business

Oliver Products Company (“Oliver” or the “Company”), provides packaging materials and systems to the healthcare and foodservice industries. The healthcare packaging business provides roll stock lidding, pouches, coated roll stock, and die-cut lids to medical device and pharmaceutical companies for sterile packaging applications. The foodservice business provided trays, lidding, cups and other disposable products, along with heat sealing equipment to a variety of end markets, including senior meals, corrections, and schools. The foodservice business also manufactures bread slicers and other bakery equipment.

Transaction

Oliver was a fourth generation family business. The two family members running the business did not agree on the strategic direction of the Company, and had no succession plans. Mason Wells was viewed as an attractive buyer because of its deep packaging industry sector expertise, Midwestern approach and ability to bring senior leadership. Mason Wells had an Executive Operating Partner ready to step in as interim CEO to address ownership’s concerns and ensure a smooth transition until a permanent CEO could be recruited.

Opportunity and Contribution

Mason Wells realized that Oliver was operating less than optimally due to plant inefficiencies and the distraction of operating two separate businesses in a single manufacturing facility. Mason Wells also knew that the crown jewel of the Company was the healthcare packaging division. Up to this point, the healthcare packaging business had underpenetrated a number of accounts and end markets due to distractions from non-core products, a lack of sales focus, and limited sales leadership. On the foodservice packaging side, Mason Wells determined that a number of additional end markets such as schools and prisons could be penetrated in addition to further growth in Oliver’s traditional senior Meals on Wheels market.

Mason Wells and management’s first objective was to execute a number of operational improvement initiatives and realign resources to focus on building two independent businesses. During the first year of ownership, Mason recruited a seasoned medical packaging veteran to become the permanent CEO of the Company. Soon thereafter, Mason Wells sourced and closed a medical packaging tuck-in acquisition, Tolas Healthcare. The renamed Oliver business segment of Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging subsequently became a top 3 supplier to the Class II and III medical device packaging market. The new CEO continued to build out the senior management team with key sales, product development, and financial leadership additions. The healthcare packaging business also opened and expanded facilities in Europe and Asia to serve its base of multi-national medical device customers. The foodservice packaging segment moved to a larger, independent facility, and continued to grow its traditional senior Meals on Wheels business and had success in growing a number of new markets as well. Additionally, the Company successfully implemented a new ERP system across each business segment, allowing for improved scheduling, profitability tracking, and inventory management.

For a list of all investments made by Mason Wells Funds, please click here.

Family Owned
Gurnee, IL
Consumer Packaged Goods

Business 

Paris Presents, Inc. (“Paris” or the “Company”) was a leading provider of branded and private label personal care products, including cosmetic accessories, specialty bath and body products, and other health and beauty products sold in the mass, drug and food retail channels. Paris developed and provided three leading brands within these categories including: EcoToolsTM, an industry-leading line of cosmetic and bath accessories featuring earth-friendly materials, Real TechniquesTM, a line of makeup brushes supported by online video tutorials by professional makeup artists and beauty bloggers, and Body BenefitsTM, the leading specialty bath accessory brand. The Company’s “Direct Connection Marketing” system drove the growth of its branded products through social media and the development of an online beauty education platform. Paris also provided category management services based on proprietary consumer and market intelligence to help customers manage cosmetic and specialty bath product categories. 

 

Transaction

Paris was sold by the founding family of the Company, which was being run by the second generation of family owners at the time of sale. Mason Wells was selected as the preferred buyer due to its deep experience in the consumer packaged goods sector, Midwestern approach and ability to bring new senior leadership to facilitate family succession. 

 

Opportunity and Contribution 

Mason Wells’ investment thesis for Paris was to help transform a family-owned private label business into a best-in-class branded consumer packaged goods business using industry best practices for sales, marketing and supply chain management. Implementing new selling techniques was a significant growth opportunity, particularly as the Company had recently introduced branded products. Another sales growth opportunity was in the marketing function, as the business was significantly underinvested in Internet and social media-based marketing. Mason Wells also identified substantial supply chain improvements as the Company’s supply chain had too many suppliers and the existing manufacturers of the products had not been price checked in several years. Additionally, Mason Wells assisted the decision to improve margins by shifting the sales mix toward the Company’s higher margin branded products.

For a list of all investments made by Mason Wells Funds, please click here.

Owner Recapitalization
Indianapolis, IN
Outsourced Business Services

Business

Prime Distribution Services, Inc. (“Prime” or the “Company”) was a non-asset based third-party logistics (3PL) provider specializing in warehousing, multi-vendor consolidation, cross-docking, transportation management, and other value-added logistics services. The Company serviced medium-sized (i.e., less-than-truckload, or “LTL”) suppliers providing non-perishable food products to large retailers. Prime warehoused and consolidated LTL shipments at its facilities from approximately 200 customers and shipped full truckload quantities to the retailers’ distribution centers. Prime operated four warehouse facilities across the U.S.

 

Transaction

Mason Wells was introduced to a CEO who was looking to buy Prime using his and his partners’ financial resources and bank debt. When the bank financing proved difficult to arrange, the CEO called Mason Wells and the transaction was completed rapidly on a proprietary basis with Mason Wells providing the required equity. The existing owners decided to roll some of their proceeds into the new Company.

 

Opportunity and Contribution

Mason Wells purchased the Company from the founders to serve as a platform with a new management team from the logistics industry. Mason Wells and the new management team recognized significant opportunities to improve the business. Margin improvement opportunities identified at the time of acquisition included (i) inefficiencies in the warehouse operations driven by lack of metrics and accountability, (ii) no historical consolidation and rebidding of suppliers, and (iii) lack of profitability measurements by customer, location and service. Each of these represented margin improvement opportunities when corrected. Sales growth opportunities identified included implementation of a formalized sales force to sell the Company’s compelling value proposition to existing and new customers. 

For a list of all investments made by Mason Wells Funds, please click here.

Non-Core Division
Milton, WI
Packaging Materials & Converting

Business 

Charter NEX Films, Inc. (“Charter NEX” or the “Company”), is a leading, independent manufacturer of high-quality, custom monolayer, coextruded, and barrier polyethylene (“PE”) films for flexible packaging applications. The Company supplies flexible packaging converters with a broad array of highly engineered film products for the food, foodservice, pet food, industrial and medical markets. It markets its products through three primary channels: non-integrated converters, integrated film manufacturers and converters, and CPG brand owners. 

 

Transaction

The platform Company, NEX Performance Films (“NEX”), was acquired from Appleton Papers as a non-core corporate divestiture. Mason Wells had developed a relationship with NEX's management team and was the preferred buyer in the eyes of the management team due to Mason Wells' packaging experience, Midwestern approach and experience in executing corporate carve-outs. Shortly after acquiring NEX, Mason Wells and management expressed interest to the owners of Charter Films (“Charter”), and were well positioned when it came to market 18 months later. 

 

Opportunity and Contribution 

NEX and Charter had been competitors since Charter’s founding in 1998, serving the same markets and customers. The two management teams had known each other for many years and there was a strong cultural fit. While NEX’s focus had been on more complex film applications requiring shorter production runs, Charter’s strategy was focused on high volume runs of mostly coex and mono film products for which it had acquired a market reputation for quality and operational excellence. Following the acquisition of Charter in 2012, the combined Company had one of the most robust blown PE film operations in the U.S. offering a one-stop-shop for converter customers looking for high quality film. Charter NEX had assembled a modern and efficient equipment set. The NEX and Charter combination allowed the Company to better utilize existing assets, expand production capacity to meet increasing customer demand for the Company’s film, cross-sell to customers, and realize combined cost savings. 

For a list of all investments made by Mason Wells Funds, please click here.

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