Deal Watch: The making of an onion giant

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Friday, June 01, 2007


There were no tears shed when two Hermiston onion companies joined forces in April. With the help of capital from Dallas-based CIC Partners, Bob Hale’s American Onion and Joe Graziano’s Rivergate Farms merged to form River Point Farms, which, they’re saying (and so far nobody has called them out on it) is now the largest grower and processor of yellow, red and sweet onions. Hale won’t say how much he expects in sales this year, only that 500 year-round employees will produce 400 million pounds of River Point onions.

It was a match made in vegetable heaven. Graziano, whose family’s produce trucks have been a fixture in Oregon for generations, claims the nickname “the Onion King.” In 2003 (three years after selling his produce business to Del Monte) he introduced a new way of cutting oinions to increase their shelf-life. Hale, meanwhile, was actively going after the fast-casual restaurant chain business. The two worked closely together, American growing the onions, Rivergate cutting them up. As Hale puts it: “It made sense to roll the companies together.”

Enter CIC, a bunch of former restaurant guys (other CIC investments include Quiznos and the largest TGI Fridays franchise) who recognized the opportunity. What’s next for River Point? Hale, the new company’s president, points out that the onion business is “highly fragmented.” Translation: Watch this space for future onion acquisitions.
— Christina Williams


1-May International Airport Centers LLC (IL) industrial facility (Fairview) Fairview Development LLC (Fairview) $17m
30-Apr RE No One LLC Hillsboro Promenade (Hillsboro) Hillsboro Promenade LLC $10.1m
25-Apr Unico Properties LLC (WA) and JP Morgan Investment Management Reflections of Summer Creek (Beaverton) Undisclosed private entity $37m
24-Apr Richard J. Bennett industrial property (Portland) Weston William McGaa Irrevocable Trust $1.9m
17-Apr Calloway Real Estate Investment Trust (Toronto) 2 retail centers (Portland & Albany) SmartCentres of Toronto $35m
13-Apr ScanlanKemperBard Companies LLC (Portland) office building (CO) ND $45.55m
4-Apr Guardian Management LLC (Portland) residential apartments (WA) ND ND
4-Apr Clackamas County industrial building (Oregon City) RS 7 LLC $3.68m
2-Apr Guardian Management LLC (Portland) residential apartments (AZ) ND ND



1-May Q2 ‘ 07 Cascade Corporation (Fairview) American Compaction Equipment (CA) ND
1-May Q2 ‘ 07 MSI-PRO Co. (North Plains)/Jewett-Cameron Trading Company Ltd. new product lines ND
30-Apr ND Aventura Resorts (WA) RV resort (Mosier) ND
24-Apr Q2 ‘ 07 CIC Partners (TX) American Onion; Rivergate Farms, LLC (Hermiston) ND
21-Apr Q2 ‘ 07 Brookfield Asset Management (Toronto) Longview Fibre Co. (WA) $2.15b
16-Apr Q3 ‘07 Ruth’s Chris Steak House (FL) Portland franchised restaurant ~$4.5m
16-Apr Q2 ‘ 07 Chockstone (Portland) Peppercoin (MA) ND
11-Apr Q2 ‘ 07 Undisclosed investment group Jackson & Perkins business (Medford)/Harry & David Holdings $21m (cash+earn-out)
4-Apr Q2 ‘ 07 SP Industries/Riverlake Partners LLC (Portland) Genevac Ltd. (England)/Thermo Fisher Scientific ND
3-Apr Q2 ‘07 Tougi (Portland)/Nettel Holdings HTD Co. (Vietnam) ND
2-Apr Q2 ‘ 07 UxComm (Beaverton) Virtugo Software (CA) ND
2-Apr Q2 ‘ 07 McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants (Portland) The Boathouse restaurants/Spectra Group of Great Restaurants (Vancouver, BC) $14.3m
30-Mar Q2 ‘07 GreenWood Tree Farm L.P./Portland poplar tree farm (Boardman) /Potlatch Corporation $65m



16-Apr Collaborative Software Initiative (Portland)/Stuart Cohen, CEO OVP Venture Partners ND
10-Apr Ensequence (Portland)/Dalen Harrison, CEO ND $40m (Series C)
10-Apr iovation (Portland)/Greg Pierson, President, CEO & Founder ND ND (Series A)

List researched by Mark Druskoff


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