Easy Way Leisure Corporation Has Completed a Majority Recap with Insight EquityHow GulfStar helped navigate the sale process for the Randman family
Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Easy Way is a specialized manufacturer of premium outdoor furniture products, providing full-service design and production services to luxury Home Décor retailers across North America. Easy Way’s unique operational configuration enables its retail partners to offer mass customization of fabric choices and rapid fulfillment to the end consumer while benefiting from extremely short lead-times and significant improvements in inventory efficiency.
Easy Way represents an American success story in just about every sense of the term. Jon Randman, Easy Way’s owner and president acquired the Company from the non-performing asset group of a local bank in 1996. From the first day forward, he built a team, implemented professional systems and controls and architected a strategic plan that ultimately rendered a dominant market leader with sales approaching $100 million. Notably, Jon and his team have developed an extraordinary corporate culture where every employee, from the manufacturing floor to executive management, has a voice in the Company’s continuous development and a stake in its commercial success.
The decision to pursue a recapitalization transaction with a financial partner was driven by a strategic imperative to aggressively accelerate the Company’s market leadership position in light of very positive market and consumer demand trends as well as a desire to realize personal liquidity after 25 years of intense effort and investment. Given the fact that the Company was enjoying enormous commercial success and operating at near optimal efficiencies, it was doubly important that Jon joined forces with the right financial partner that was directly aligned with management’s strategy and overtly respected the Company’s distinct culture and “people first” operating philosophy.
After soliciting the advice of his longtime attorney and several trusted business and personal relationships, Jon was convinced that he needed to hire an experienced banker to closely manage the numerous elements of an institutional process and personally guide him through the vast complexities of the transaction. Jon was introduced to GulfStar and after several thoughtful meetings to discuss strategy, positioning and partners, it was readily evident that Easy Way and GulfStar were meant to undertake this journey together.
EASY WAY SELECTED GULFSTAR FOR ITS EXPERIENCE WITH HIGH VALUE-ADDED SPECIALTY MANUFACTURING BUSINESSES
With GulfStar’s guidance, the process targeted a select group of experienced industry investors that had a demonstrated track record of success with highly differentiated, nuanced, cross-border manufacturing businesses. By tailoring the process and efficiently approaching the right potential buyers, GulfStar was able to streamline the transaction timeline and enable management to stay fully focused on the business, which was rapidly expanding, even in the face of numerous COVID-related challenges. GulfStar’s intimate understanding of the business and its complex positioning provided Jon and his team with extraordinary leverage, as GulfStar was able to guide buyers through virtually every aspect of the Company’s operations, financial picture and its multi-pathway growth opportunity while the Company focused on its customers, its service and its employees.
The sale of an entrepreneur-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 the owner will undertake, and one that represents the culmination of decades of effort, care and passion. As such, it is critically important that all the intangible factors surrounding a transaction are taken into full consideration to facilitate alignment amongst the owner, his management team and the buyer. It is also important to ensure that the process is orchestrated to pursue the best possible outcome that satisfies a variety of personal and financial objectives. Making the decision to bring in a financial partner after decades of going it alone is never an easy task; however, managing the sale process to the truly optimal endpoint is an exceptionally critical transactional goal to which GulfStar is particularly adept. GulfStar is almost uniquely experienced given its outright focus on the business owner’s needs and desires – above all else.
Upon the completion of a carefully orchestrated marketing process, Jon and the Easy Way team were afforded several attractive partnership alternatives, enabling them to make an easy decision that truly aligned with all their critical goals and aspirations.
SELLER & BUYER UNITE TO IGNITE GROWTH
Easy Way’s primary challenge was an enviable one in that opportunity for growth and expansion was coming to the Company at warp speed. One of Easy Way’s largest expansion opportunities is a near-term entry into the indoor upholstered furniture segment. This initiative is being driven by several of the Company’s largest customers and requires management to move quickly and decisively on meaningful investment commitments and complex planning processes to meet aggressive timelines.
Insight Equity, a leading middle market private equity firm with a specific competency in value-added manufacturing businesses, emerged as the ideal partner in this transaction because of a fundamental knowledge of the market segment, a demonstrated propensity towards fairness and transparency, and the firm’s strong commitment 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 January 15, 2021, Jon and his team received immediate validation after selecting Insight Equity as their partner. The two groups rapidly locked arms and began moving to execute on their aligned objectives on day one. In a few short months since close, Insight has already made substantial investments in personnel, operations and product development, enhancing management’s ability to achieve material market share gains in a short period of time. Easy Way has demonstrably set the foundation for extraordinary growth, as the Company’s backlog of business portends 50%+ growth in 2021, with the big moves yet to come.