Graham Partners has acquired Universal Cold Storage and Universal Pasteurization Co., both based in Lincoln, Nebraska, to form UCS & UPC Holdings Co. Financial terms were not announced. The seller was Universal founder and CEO John Jacobson. The investment is Graham’s first in the food processing technology space. Jeffrey Legath, Henry Nassau, Sarah Gelb, Sean Porter, Brad Pollack and Jonathan Stott of Dechert provided legal advice to Graham Partners.
Graham Partners has completed its initial investment in the food processing technology space, having formed UCS & UPC Holdings Company, LLC (“Universal” or the “Company”), to acquire the business of a leading provider of cold storage, high pressure pasteurization (“HPP”), and other value-added services to domestic food manufacturers. High pressure pasteurization is a non-thermal, non-chemical based method of pasteurization and represents one of the most dynamic, fastest growing segments of the broader food industry. Demand for HPP is driven by its ability to offer enhanced food safety while enabling food manufacturers to offer all-natural products with improved nutritional value and extended product shelf life. Graham Partners proactively identified HPP as an attractive investment niche and initiated a direct calling effort targeting businesses in the industry, which yielded the Universal acquisition opportunity.
Prior to its acquisition by Graham Partners, Universal was wholly owned by its founder and CEO, John Jacobson. Universal is comprised of two complementary businesses, Universal Cold Storage (“UCS”) and Universal Pasteurization Company (“UPC”), and is based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Consistent growth at Universal in recent years has been driven by investments to increase Universal’s cold storage capacity and a conversion towards HPP in Universal’s core markets. UCS and UPC are strategically located in the nation’s heartland to optimally serve the largest food manufacturers.
“We have established ourselves as the nation’s leading independent high pressure pasteurization service provider,” stated John Jacobson. “Our industry leading reputation for unmatched customer service and state-of-the-art facilities enables us to offer an unbeatable solution. Graham is the ideal partner for Universal with its strategic vision and broad operating resources.”
Graham Partners specializes in buyouts of middle market industrial and manufacturing-related businesses with advanced manufacturing know-how, innovative product development capabilities, and strong growth potential often benefiting from a product or technology conversion trend within their industry. In Universal’s case, a conversion is underway towards HPP from traditional methods of pasteurization, creating the opportunity for tremendous growth as penetration continues. Industry research suggests that adoption of HPP may increase as much as 20-30% annually as consumer awareness increases and the technology continues to gain acceptance.
“Graham’s focused sourcing efforts paid off,” said Andrew Snyder, Managing Principal at Graham Partners. “We believe this is the ideal time to invest in the HPP niche, where Universal has established itself as the industry leader. Universal’s complementary value-added services offering has enabled Universal to become a key strategic partner with its customers. We are excited to work with the management team to further expand the business and drive strategic growth initiatives.”