Organic Growth for a Natural Pet Food MakerC.J. Foods

Headquartered in Bern, Kansas, C. J. Foods is a premier manufacturer of natural, super-premium and organic foods and treats for dogs, cats, fish, reptiles and birds. Its capabilities include product concept, pilot testing, and manufacturing and packaging – all through the Company’s state-of-the-art facilities located in the heart of America’s farm country. The Company serves both a domestic and international market with products that meet the strictest standards in the industry.


In 2009, C.J. Foods was looking for ways to expand its capacity to take advantage of the increased demand for its premium pet food products. At the same time, Trinity Hunt was looking for an opportunity to invest in this fast-growing premium pet food niche, and ride the “humanization of pets” wave. After reviewing alternatives (including “going it alone” and “betting the farm” again to expand), the owner of C.J. Foods decided to partner with Trinity Hunt to reduce his own personal financial risk and to accelerate the Company’s growth.


Together, Trinity Hunt and management first focused on add-on acquisitions to grow its capacity, but couldn’t find a target that would satisfy C.J.’s high food safety requirements. Undeterred, we then pursued internal growth initiatives in order to increase capacity. Armed with strong customer demand and backlog, the Company undertook a $20 million plant expansion to grow its capacity by almost 50 percent. In order to manage the accelerated growth, we worked with management to implement employee safety programs, upgrade back office support systems, and add roughly 140 employees during the depths of the Great Recession.


In May 2014, Trinity Hunt successfully exited the investment in a sale of the Company to J.H. Whitney, a private equity firm based in Connecticut. The Company was advised by investment bank Harris Williams & Co. During Trinity Hunt’s four and a half years of stewardship, C.J. Foods’ revenues grew organically at an annual growth rate of more than 15%, EBITDA nearly doubled, and its enterprise value tripled. The Trinity Hunt deal team consisted of Will Bixby, Hunter Peterson and Mike Steindorf.


Disclaimer: All information provided herein is for informational purposes only, this case study is illustrative of the types of investments the adviser would make, and should not be relied upon to make an investment decision. Past performance results relate only to the time periods indicated and are not an indication of, nor a reliable proxy for future performance. An investor runs the risk of losing all of its investment. This presentation is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of any offer to buy any securities, investment products or investment advisory services.