LongWater buys sock maker Fox River

LongWater Opportunities has acquired sock maker Fox River Mills Inc. No financial terms were disclosed.


Osage, Iowa, November 15, 2016 – LongWater Opportunities, an operationally-focused private equity firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Fox River Mills, Inc. (“Fox River” or the “Company”), a 116-year-old sock manufacturer, from the Lessard family, who have owned and managed the business since 1975.

Fox River is a producer of high quality, knitted technical socks and handwear for the outdoor, athletic, and casual markets. Founded in 1900, the Company is the longest, continuously-running hosiery mill in the U.S. and proudly manufactures all of its products in its 240,000 square foot, world-class facility in Osage, Iowa. Fox River manufactures socks and handwear products marketed under the Fox River brand name (www.foxsox.com) and maintains private label programs for many major brands and retailers worldwide.

The Company is also known for several trademarks, including Wick Dry®, Scentry™, and the Original Rockford Red Heel® Monkey sock, which is synonymous with the nostalgic children’s toy.

Fox River President and Co-Owner, John Lessard noted, “We knew it was important to find a partner that believed in U.S. manufacturing and investing in the people and the community. We believe we’ve found that in LongWater. We’re excited about the future of Fox River Mills.” Additionally, Brenda Dryer, the Executive Director for the Mitchell Country (Iowa) Economic Development Commission, commented “We have had an outstanding working relationship with the Lessard family. We look forward to the opportunity to work with LongWater Opportunities, and stand ready to be of assistance during this time of transition.”

Fox River, the fourth investment in LongWater’s second equity fund, will be a division of Standard Merchandising Company, a Camden, New Jersey-based domestic manufacturer of socks and hosiery products acquired by LongWater in December 2015 (www.stanmerchfuture.com). Jordan Bastable, a Partner at LongWater, commented, “Fox River Mills is an incredible American brand that has been forged over a century and has been steadfast in its commitment to quality and technical performance. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide operational support and ensure the brand is around for another 100+ years.” Laura Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Merchandising Company, commented, “Fox River Mills has the unique blend of heritage and innovation as hallmarks of the brand. We value the rich history and deep expertise of the Fox River team and look forward to developing careers and commerce in Osage and the surrounding communities.”

About LongWater Opportunities
LongWater Opportunities, headquartered in Dallas, Texas with an office in Fargo, North Dakota, is an operationally-focused private equity firm that targets control buyout equity investments in lower middle market U.S.-based manufacturing companies in partnership with family owner-operators and entrepreneurs. LongWater was founded in 2009 with a vision to create a different kind of private equity firm – one that centers on mutually aligned interests and investing patient capital to build successful American manufacturing businesses. LongWater recognizes that long-term value is created through taking a hands-on approach with its portfolio companies to identify and execute strategic and operational initiatives that create sustainable competitive advantages.

About Standard Merchandising Company
Founded in 1922 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Standard Merchandising Company designs, manufactures, and distributes several lines of branded and private label hosiery products, specializing in luxury women’s products and athletic and novelty socks. Along with its private label business, which serves several leading national retailers and apparel brands, Standard Merchandising Company’s brand lineup includes b.ella, Red Lion, nouvella, QTfeet, and E.G. Smith. The luxury lines feature the highest quality exotic yarns and animal hairs sourced from across the globe, including cashmere, extra fine merino wool, mohair, and alpaca yarns, among others. The athletic and novelty lines are known for variety and creativity in designs, comfort, and durable construction that hold up on and off the field across a variety of sports and activities.

To ensure the highest quality standards, Standard Merchandising Company’s socks are proudly made in the USA.

For more information please visit www.longwateropportunities.com.