Norwest Equity Partners Invests in Food and Beverage Industry with Old Hickory Smokehouse Investment

March 19, 2015


Minneapolis, Minnesota – Norwest Equity Partners (“NEP”), a leading middle market investment firm, has announced that it has made an investment in Old Hickory Smokehouse LLC (“Old Hickory” or “the Company”), a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of food and beverage products sold into the retail grocery and foodservice channels under both branded and private label offerings. NEP’s investment was made in partnership with Wayne Wolf, Old Hickory CEO. The transaction closed February 20, 2015; financial terms were not disclosed.

This investment is demonstrative of NEP’s investment partnership model which is focused on partnering with business owners and their management teams to build strong, growing companies into even greater industry leaders. Todd Solow, a NEP partner and Old Hickory board member, stated, “Our firm has been actively seeking investments in this segment, and to have the opportunity to partner with an industry veteran such as Wayne Wolf and be involved with a company that is well-positioned for continued growth is very exciting. The Company’s focus on prepared meats and accessories is attractive due to a large addressable market and multiple growth opportunities.”

Old Hickory is led by Wayne Wolf, an industry veteran with a variety of Corporate Officer experiences during his 30+ year career at McDonald’s including restaurant operations, supply chain and corporate strategy. During that career, McDonald’s acquired Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Wayne served on its Board.  Prior to transitioning to a new career phase as an investor entrepreneur, Wayne was President of an international software and technology services firm funded through the venture capital community. Old Hickory benefits from his unique experiences and a highly-experienced ownership vested management team readying the company for significant growth and market penetration.

Old Hickory is differentiated within the BBQ segment through its partnership with Myron Mixon, a nationally-known Pitmaster and leader in the BBQ segment. Mixon has won numerous BBQ championships, is a 2013 BBQ Hall of Fame inductee, and serves as the host of “BBQ Pitmasters” on Destination America, a show now in its sixth season with over 750,000 viewers per episode. Mixon is also the author of the New York Times bestselling cookbook, “Smokin’ with Myron Mixon.”  Through this partnership, the Old Hickory development team has designed equipment and utilized Myron’s recipes to consistently produce “competition quality” products.  Old Hickory uses the same techniques and processes Myron uses today to earn the title “King of BBQ.”  Myron and the Old Hickory team believe these products have not been available commercially until now.

Wolf commented on the investment by NEP, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the NEP team. Having an investment partner with a long-standing history and reputation for successful investments, as well as experience within the industry is a key component for our next stage of growth. We share the same values, ‘Do the right thing…especially when it matters the most.’  Together, we are perfectly positioned to penetrate a broad market with numerous categories including exciting opportunities within the foodservice channel as the restaurant industry continues to diversify menu offerings and offer additional smoked products. The demand for BBQ and specialty smoked meats is growing faster than any other menu category as consumers demand high quality, authentically prepared BBQ related products. The relationship with Myron Mixon and his growing national notoriety will accelerate consumer acceptance of the Old Hickory ‘competition quality’ products. Add the partnership with NEP and Old Hickory has the opportunity to dominate this marketplace.”

Other senior members of the Old Hickory team include John Schwan, an experienced business investor and active military veteran, and Jim Dismore, former Senior Vice President at Wal-Mart.

Old Hickory operates its business out of its 85,000 square foot facility in Lewisburg, Tennessee.