Minneapolis, Minnesota – Norwest Equity Partners (NEP), a leading middle market investment firm, has announced its acquisition of Bix Produce Company (Bix or the Company), a leader in specialty produce processing and distribution. The transaction closed December 21, 2015. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Founded in 1930 by Max Bix in Austin, Minnesota with a single truck, Bix continues to build on its foundation of offering the finest quality products, exceptional food safety, and industry leading customer service. Bix currently processes and distributes the finest quality bulk and pre-cut fruits and vegetables, dairy, and related food items to food service operators including restaurants, hotels, educational institutions, health care facilities, and country clubs. Bix Produce serves customers throughout the entire state of Minnesota as well as Western Wisconsin, Eastern North Dakota, Iowa, and Northern Illinois.
Mark Kochevar, Bix CEO, stated, “Bix is thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with NEP for the next phase of our development and success. NEP’s investment in our business is a reflection of the strength of our team, our business model, and our proven success over the years. Together we are going to work hard to continue to support and build Bix into an even greater market leader within our industry.”
Todd Solow, NEP Partner, stated, “As the leading produce distributor and processor in the Twin Cities market for the last 85 years, NEP expects Bix’s level of strong growth momentum and success to continue during our ownership. We look forward to our partnership with Mark and the rest of the Bix management team.”
Bix operates out of a nearly 80,000 square foot facility in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In addition to office and refrigerated warehouse space, the facility contains a state-of-the-art fresh cut processing facility which utilizes the most advanced equipment in the industry. With the processing of produce, both fresh fruits and vegetables, occurring seven days per week, Bix employs more than 340 people in its facility.
Founded in 1961, NEP is a leading equity investment firm and focuses on partnering with companies to build them into industry leaders. As one of the largest and oldest equity investment firms in the Upper Midwest, NEP has a long-standing history of investment and operational success, experience working with distribution-focused businesses, as well as those based in Minnesota. Recent Minnesota-based investments include: Apothecary Products, eyebobs, Marco, Minnesota Rubber, Gopher Resource, and Shock Doctor.
Piper Jaffray & Company served as financial advisor to Bix, and Lindquist & Vennum served as legal counsel to NEP. Financing was provided by BMO Capital Markets, ING Capital, Maranon Capital, and Norwest Mezzanine Partners. Tim DeVries, Todd Solow, and Christina Miller will represent NEP on Bix’s board of directors. For more information, visit www.bixproduce.com or www.nep.com.