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Paine Schwartz backs foodservice provider

Lyons Magnus is partly owned by members of the family that founded Wawona Packing, the fresh produce packaging company that Paine supported in May.

Paine Schwartz Partners has made an investment in Lyons Magnus, a Fresno, California-headquartered food and beverage product supplier.

Capital for the investment came from the firm’s Food Chain Fund IV, which exceeded an initial target of $800 million before closing on $893 million in 2015, a source told Agri Investor.

Financial details were not disclosed and a Paine Schwartz representative declined to comment.

Lyons Magnus was founded in 1852 and provides products including beverage syrups, smoothies and other fruit-based offerings to customers in the foodservice, healthcare and dairy ingredient industries. The company has a warehouse and production facility in Walton, Kentucky, and its offerings include select “clean-label” products free of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and preservatives.

Paine Schwartz chief executive and founding partner Kevin Schwartz said the investment in Lyons Magnus was a “strategic” one in an “exciting growth platform in the foodservice sector.”

“We believe that Lyons Magnus is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for innovative foodservice product,” he added.

Lyons Magnus chairman and chief executive Robert Smittcamp, whose family has owned the company for more than 46 years, will continue in his position and retain a “significant” ownership stake.

In May, Paine purchased a stake in Wawona Packing Company, a Cutler, California-based fresh fruit company founded by Earl Smittcamp, father of  Robert.

Adam Fless, Paine Schwartz managing director of portfolio performance, told Agri Investor in June that the firm’s work with family-owned businesses is part of what often necessitates a slower approach to the 100-day plan that traditionally follows a private equity investment, compared with industries outside of agriculture.

“Culturally, we work with many former founder and family-owned businesses, across many geographies in the business whose rhythms are tied directly into the ag cycle, which demand flexibility,” Fless said. “When you think of how to approach a company like that, you have to get out there in person and understand their place in the ecosystem.”