100% Purchase of Louisiana Fish Fry by Peak Rock CapitalHow GulfStar helped navigate the sale process for the Pizzolato family
Founded in Baton Rouge by the Pizzolato family in 1982, Louisiana Fish Fry manufactures and distributes a broad selection of Cajun-inspired food products to a national customer base of leading grocery and mass market retailers as well as foodservice distributors. The brand has earned an exceptional reputation for great tasting, authentic food products, and outstanding customer service.
The family also owns Tony’s Seafood, a seafood market and deli in Baton Rouge, which was launched in 1972 by patriarch Tony Pizzolato along with his wife and five sons.
The decision to sell Louisiana Fish Fry was a difficult one for the Pizzolato family, who carefully nurtured the brand and steadfastly supported its talented team of dedicated employees and loyal customers for nearly 40 years.
Under family ownership, the company faced a common and consistent board level challenge in the assessment of risk and capital deployment versus the aggressive pursuit of growth objectives in a competitive market environment. Given the long tenure of the family’s ownership, and the perception that expansion by way of product development and sales and marketing initiatives were increasingly appropriate to bolster the company’s market position, the Pizzolatos elected to hire an investment bank to analyze how to best position the business for accelerated future growth.
The family selected GulfStar for its experience with family-owned food & beverage businesses
With GulfStar’s guidance, it was determined that partnering with an experienced industry investor would best ensure the continuance of the brand’s legacy and provide the operational management team with the opportunity to prosper and thrive through expanded market reach fueled by immediately available capital resources.
The sale of a family-owned business is always a delicate exercise that is full of emotional content and personal concern. In many cases, such a sale is the first and last transaction that a family will undertake, and one that represents the culmination of decades of effort, care and passion. As such, it is critically important that all of the intangible factors surrounding a transaction are taken into full consideration, to facilitate alignment amongst various family members, and to ensure that the process is orchestrated to pursue the best possible outcome that satisfies a variety of personal, emotional and financial objectives. Getting to a point of familial harmony is never an easy task, especially when there are numerous family members in the ownership group. However, this exceptionally critical transactional aspect is one for which GulfStar is particularly adept, as the firm is almost uniquely experienced given its focus on the business owner’s needs and desires – above all else.
Upon the completion of a thoughtful and specific plan for Louisiana Fish Fry, the GulfStar team guided the family and the management team into the market in a highly competitive, targeted process that ultimately resulted in significant market interest from both strategic and financial buyers.
Seller & buyer unite to preserve family’s legacy
The Pizzolatos were adamant about preserving their rich family legacy, company culture and employee base. They wanted to be sure that they partnered with a buyer that shared their core values of employee care, customer service and a commitment to extreme product integrity.
Peak Rock Capital, a leading middle market private equity firm with a specific competency in packaged food, emerged as the ideal partner in this transaction because of the firm’s strong commitment to build on the family’s tremendous legacy, and its demonstrated desire to work with the management team to enhance and grow the business to help create even greater professional and economic opportunity for all employees.
From the time of the transaction, which closed on October 5, 2018, Peak Rock Capital has made substantial investments in personnel, operations and product development and has achieved material market share gains, successful new product launches and expanded distribution.
The Pizzolato family continues to independently operate Tony’s Seafood, and remains a well-respected and visible presence in the Baton Rouge community.
Louisiana Fish Fry secured a truly ideal partner in Peak Rock Capital, and we stand assured that the legacy of this very fine brand will continue to expand in scope through innovation, distribution expansion and increasing consumer awareness of its undeniably authentic, great tasting products. We are truly honored that the owners selected GulfStar to guide them through this important transaction and reach this positive outcome.
Scott Winship, GulfStar Group