Mason Wells Newsletter 2020 – Volume 2
July 1 2020
- AWT Labels & Packaging Wins Multiple Awards, Announces Promotion, and Team Growth
- EastPoint Sports Announces Two Senior Executive Hires
- MGS Mfg. Group Inc. Featured in Plastics Technology
- RJW Logistics Group Announces Warehouse Addition and Team Growth
- Structural Concepts Corporation Recognized by MiBiz as “Deal of the Year”
AWT Labels & Packaging, a Mason Wells Buyout Fund III, LP portfolio company and a leading label and flexible packaging converter headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, recently received awards for the “Best in Category” and “Award of Recognition” in the Printing Industry Midwest annual Star Awards competition.
Printing Industry Midwest’s Star Awards honors every aspect of the graphic communications supply chain, from content creation to print distribution. The Best in Category designation goes to those printed pieces deemed the best among all submissions within the Flexographic Printing category. AWT was awarded for the Company’s flexographically printed Veil Cranberry Lime Vodka shrink sleeve label. Meanwhile, the Award of Recognition is given to printed pieces determined to be exemplary within their category and class. AWT received this honor for a flexographically printed pressure-sensitive label for Olly brand nutritional supplements.
In addition to the above awards, AWT received Certificates of Merit for two other labels submitted for the competition.
As AWT Labels & Packaging continues to grow and evolve as a company, it recognizes the need to invest in talent to support this growth. Jim Lundquist, Chief Executive Officer, recently announced the promotion of Michelle Zeller to President of AWT. Ms. Zeller has spent more than 15 years as AWT’s Chief Financial Officer, over seven years as the Company’s Chief Operations Officer, and is a Certified Public Accountant. She will retain both designations as President and Chief Financial Officer of AWT.
Ms. Zeller has been instrumental in the growth and success of the AWT group of companies. She played a key role in AWT’s acquisition and integration of the Company’s South Elgin, Illinois, flexible packaging division, as well as AWT’s Citation Healthcare Labels division in Hauppauge, New York.
“Michelle’s outstanding leadership and commitment to the employees and customers of AWT have been indispensable during a period of substantial growth and change for the company,” explains Mr. Lundquist. “We’re certain her advanced financial skills and vision will serve the company well as we go forward.”
AWT is also pleased to announce that Brice Plote has joined the company as a Sales Executive. Mr. Plote is an experienced sales professional focusing on flexible packaging during his 25-year career in the industry. He has an extensive background in converted films, chub films and pouches within the processed meats, cheese, snack food, coffee, and pet food industries. While his primary focus has been flexible packaging, Mr. Plote has also sold labels throughout his career.
Scott Farkas has also recently joined the company as Senior Production Engineer. Mr. Farkas has been in the printing industry for over 20 years, with a focus on flexographic label printing. He has spent the majority of that time as a design engineer, developing innovative label constructions for unique package applications and operating environments.
Mr. Farkas is based at AWT’s headquarters in Minneapolis, while Mr. Plote lives in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin.
For more information, please visit the Company’s website at www.awtlabelpack.com.
EastPoint Sports Holding Corp., a Mason Wells Buyout Fund IV, LP portfolio company, and a leading producer of branded and licensed indoor and outdoor home recreational sporting goods, recently appointed Jonathan Berkowitz as Chief Executive Officer and Andy Neiterman as Vice President of Product Development and Sourcing.
Mr. Berkowitz joins EastPoint after spending the past 17 years at Hasbro, Inc., most recently serving as President of Hasbro Brands. During his tenure, he was responsible for the development and growth of iconic brands such as Nerf, G.I. Joe, Monopoly, Sorry, and many others.
Mr. Berkowitz joins Mike Nally, founder of EastPoint, and the rest of the senior management team in pursuit of the company’s growth initiatives, including innovative products and omnichannel growth. Mr. Nally commented, “We are thrilled to have Jonathan join EastPoint. He is a great fit for this position and as we enter a new era at EastPoint, I’m confident that we’ve found a fantastic leader. I look forward to assisting Jonathan as a member of the company’s board of directors.”
Mr. Neiterman joins EastPoint after spending the past 11 years at Melissa & Doug, a leading producer of toys, puzzles, and games for children, most recently serving as Vice President of Supply Chain. While at Melissa & Doug, he was accountable for the development and supply of all the products at Melissa & Doug, a company known for its focus on product innovation and quality. Mr. Neiterman will be a key member of the EastPoint leadership team and will continue to be responsible for the development and sourcing of high-quality products.
For more information, please visit the Company’s website at www.eastpointsports.com.
MGS Mfg. Group Inc., a Mason Wells Buyout Fund IV, LP portfolio company and a global supplier of injection molded plastic components, tooling, and equipment for healthcare, electronics, automotive, and consumer end markets, was recently featured in Plastics Technology. The company was recognized for organizing its injection molding, moldmaking, and automation capabilities in a tightly compressed timeline to outfit the equivalent of a full-scale injection molding plant for COVID-19 test kits.
MGS recognized how plastics manufacturing would play a huge role during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyone knew that in order to have containment and not keep the country shut down and to have a more strategic approach to the outbreak, we need information; we needed data; and we need much, much more testing,” said Paul Manley, President of MGS.
MGS, headquartered in Germantown, Wisconsin, has five manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, and Ireland. With global operations, MGS has expanded into injection molding and custom automation, with a specialization in two-shot molds and molding, and medical manufacturing. That mixture of abilities puts MGS in a unique position to help ramp up production of urgently needed COVID-19 test kits.
“Our customer, who was familiar with MGS and our unique capabilities, saw us as a perfect partner to help scale these components,” Mr. Manley explains. “I say unique capabilities because there are a lot of really good toolmakers in the United States and a lot of really good injection molding companies. There are also a lot of companies that build automation, but at MGS, our integrated solution, our unique value proposition, is that we do all three.”
MGS’ ability to take on a project of this scale is a direct result of recent investments. MGS signed on to build 18 injection molds, eight of those being multicomponent tools, by mid-July, 2020, giving the company approximately ten weeks from project launch to sample parts from new molds with a streamlined validation process. The monumental moldmaking task was made possible by employees working 60 to 70-hour workweeks and instituting split shifts in the tool room to maximize equipment usage.
“These are complex plastic parts,” said Mr. Manley. “We all understand the urgency of getting these to market, and in a suite of tools where lead times would typically be 18 to 20 weeks; we’re building them in six to eight weeks. The ability to take something designed for half a million or a million tests per month and scale it to five to ten million tests per month, in a very compressed time frame, is a challenge.”
As the molds are completed, MGS is staging 18 injection-molding machines in its ISO Class 8 Cleanroom at MGS’ Healthcare Center of Excellence manufacturing facility in Germantown, Wisconsin, into a sort of “supercell” to allow coordinated molding of the components. The plan is to be in mass production by mid-September 2020. When that time comes, Mr. Manley anticipates the monthly volume of individual parts for this project to be in the range of 12-15 million.
In June 2019, the company announced an injection of $20 million into its Germantown headquarters, expanding its cleanroom molding with a new 13,000-square-foot Class 8 space that is the heart of its new Healthcare Center of Excellence. That new cleanroom houses 20 injection molding machines, ranging in clamp force from 160 to 650 tons, and it joins existing cleanrooms in Germantown that covered 15,000 square feet and 6500 square feet, respectively. MGS has more than 100 injection molding machines and 300 employees in Germantown and anticipates hiring 40 new employees in 2020.
For more information, please visit the Company’s website at www.mgsmfg.com.
RJW Logistics Group, Inc., a Mason Wells Buyout Fund IV, LP portfolio company, announced on April 1, 2020, the opening of its sixth warehouse to accommodate the growth of its integrated logistics program. At 545,000 square feet, the facility in Romeoville, Illinois, is the company’s latest extension of its growing retail consolidation operations, a unique program designed to generate supply chain efficiencies and overall profitability for CPG suppliers.
Through this facility alone, RJW will service 50-75 retail consolidation customers, receiving an estimated 400,000 pallets and shipping 42 million cases or more annually. This expansion supports the company’s commitment to providing industry-leading services, including LTL consolidation, asset-based transportation, warehousing, and comprehensive logistics to streamline customers’ supply chain processes, increase in-stock levels, avoid retailer fines, drive scorecard performance, and enhance profitability.
“Our focus is on providing logistics services that help CPG suppliers optimize their supply chains and master the middle mile in a time of unprecedented online shopping and direct-to-consumer distribution,” said Kevin Williamson, Chief Executive Officer of RJW. “Our new, state-of-the-art facility will operate 22 hours per day, six days a week to ensure that we continue delivering the highest levels of service to our customers. Importantly, this expansion also creates 250-275 new warehouse jobs during a critical time.”
More than a traditional warehouse, the company’s new facility promotes supply chain sustainability with LED and motion-activated lighting, as well as battery-powered equipment, and has received its AIB certification with a high score of 980 out of 1,000. The company is currently hiring for material handlers, warehouse supervisors, and customer service reps, among other jobs.
RJW also announced that former Walmart executive Chris Sultemeier has joined the RJW Logistics Group, Inc. Board of Directors and Greg Forbis has joined the RJW management team as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development.
Mr. Sultemeier has over 30 years of retail and logistics experience, most recently as Executive Vice President of Logistics at Walmart Inc. and Chief Executive Officer of Walmart Transportation LLC. He joins the Board alongside other experts in retail logistics, helping to foster growth and continue the company’s dedication to enhancing retail supplier transportation efficiencies and shipping accuracy. “Chris is an outstanding addition to our Board,” said Mr. Williamson, RJW’s CEO. “He is a proven leader, teacher, and innovator, and his experience in retail will allow us to further anticipate the needs of retailers and consumers, and develop the technologies and programs to serve them.”
Greg Forbis will leverage his 30 years of experience with Walmart Inc. to prospect, maintain, and build relationships with RJW customers and other strategic relationships in the company’s expanding retail consolidation and logistics programs. Mr. Forbis most recently served as Senior Director of Regional Transportation and Senior Director of General Merchandise Inbound Transportation at Walmart Inc. Mr. Williamson stated that “we are thrilled that Greg has joined the RJW leadership team. The experience he brings to RJW and our customer and retailer relationships will only improve what we have already built. We will continue to disrupt the retail logistics middle mile with solutions that cannot be matched. Greg is the perfect addition to our forward-thinking team.”
For more information, please visit the Company’s website at www.rjwgroup.com.
Structural Concepts Corporation, a Mason Wells Buyout Fund IV, LP portfolio company, was recognized in October 2019 by MiBiz news as the Deal of the Year in the Manufacturing Category of the Seventh Annual M&A Deals & Dealmakers Awards in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
An emphasis on shared family values and the promise of continued investment and growth made this year’s sale of the privately-owned company to Mason Wells, a “very friendly, reasonably smooth deal all the way along,” said Dave Geerts, retired Chief Executive Officer and former President of Structural Concepts.
After 48 years of building the business, founder James Doss and the senior management owners decided to start looking for a buyer of Structural Concepts. “Our founder was getting up in years and really wanted some liquidity and the two members of the senior management team that also own stock, including me, were wanting to retire,” Mr. Geerts told MiBiz.
Headquartered in Muskegon, Michigan, Structural Concepts, a manufacturer of temperature-controlled food and beverage display cases for foodservice establishments and supermarkets, received “incredibly strong interest” from potential acquirers, including strategic private equity firms and family offices. However, the owners were looking for more than just the highest bidder.
“We had built it from nothing into something really cool,” Mr. Geerts said. “We wanted shareholder liquidity, but we needed the right partner.” The leadership at Structural Concepts found that match in Mason Wells, which acquired Structural Concepts in October 2018.
“We’ve had a strong growth record and wanted that to continue,” said Mr. Geerts, who previously led the company for 25 years. “We picked Mason Wells because they had a reputation for doing the right things to grow their companies.” In this case, that included a record of accomplishment of investing in companies via new products, processes, and equipment-enabled growth. In addition, Mason Wells seemed “extraordinarily focused on providing ongoing opportunities for employees.”
“That was really important to us and the other key was Mason Wells doesn’t get involved in operations,” he said. “A lot of public companies, a lot of family offices, a lot of private equity groups like to take over operations. These guys don’t want to get involved in the operations. They let the managers manage.”
Mr. Geerts also did his own due diligence by reaching out to a handful of companies that Mason Wells has either bought or sold. He discovered that most of the portfolio companies under Mason Wells ownership “checked all the boxes”. He also added that the sale and integration process was “shockingly non-controversial,” thanks to some particular best practices by Mason Wells.
For more information, please visit the Company’s website at www.structuralconcepts.com.