Mid-Oaks Adds On Disposable Cutlery Maker

Mid-Oaks Investments, an investment firm based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., has purchased Dispoz-o, a disposable plastic food packaging maker, for an undisclosed amount. The deal is an add-on acquisition for Mid-Oaks Investment’s portfolio company, Wilkinson Industries, which Mid-Oaks purchased in 2004.

Press release:

Wilkinson Industries, Inc., a leading manufacturer of foodservice containers and Dispoz-o Products, Inc., an innovative producer of premium disposable plastic cutlery, drinking straws, meal and dietary kits have merged, effective April 30, 2009.

The announcement was made by privately-held Mid Oaks Investments LLC, Buffalo Grove, IL. The company has invested in the food packaging industry for almost 20 years and has owned Wilkinson since 2004. Mid Oaks purchased Dispoz-o for an undisclosed amount.

“By bringing these two industry leaders together, the new company will be in a unique position to serve its customers through a wider product offering,” said Wayne Kocourek, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Mid Oaks. “We are excited to add Dispoz-o to our portfolio.”

Gregory Jehlik, who has been Wilkinson’s president and CEO since 2007, also has been given the same responsibilities for Dispoz-o.

“Both Wilkinson and Dispoz-o have differentiated themselves as niche manufacturers, who have withstood the test of time. Collectively, the companies have more than 100 years of industry experience. Both have been driven by innovation and, more recently, a commitment to manufacturing sustainable products,” Jehlik said.

Going forward, the new company will serve the foodservice/restaurant, grocery, food processor, educational, institutional and healthcare markets through one million square feet of manufacturing and distribution space located in Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas and California.

Production capabilities include injection molding, thermoforming, extrusion, aluminum stamping, printing and kit packaging. The merged companies collectively employ approximately 1,000 people and operate 110 production lines.

Wilkinson/Dispoz-o announce merger
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Peter Iacovelli, who founded Dispoz-o as an innovative supplier in 1963, is retiring and Joseph Lancia, Dispoz-o’s former CEO, who led the company to a doubling of its size during the last six years, remains in a consulting capacity.

“From bringing the first Swanson® TV dinner tray to the marketplace in 1953, to pushing the envelope on sustainable offerings in 2009, Wilkinson has always prided itself in
taking a leadership position. By merging with Dispoz-o, we will now be able to extend our product line more broadly than ever before. This means we will be able to provide an even higher level of service and innovation for our collective customers,” Jehlik said.

“The Dispoz-o team couldn’t be more pleased to be joining forces with another innovative, service-oriented company. Dispoz-o’s customers will now have an opportunity to be better served by a wider array of products,” Lancia said.

About Mid Oaks Investments LLC
Founded in 1986, Mid Oaks, Buffalo Grove, IL, is a private firm whose principals have substantial experience in financial, operating and general management. The company invests its own capital and focuses on acquiring equity positions in established businesses with strong growth potential. For more information: www.midoaks.com.

About Dispoz-o Products, Inc.
Dispoz-o Products, Fountain Inn, SC is a customer-focused, quality-driven manufacturer of premium disposable plastic cutlery, drinking straws, meal and dietary kits serving the foodservice/restaurant, grocery, processor, education, healthcare and other industries. Marketed under its Enviroware™ brand, Dispoz-o was one of the first U.S. companies to introduce environmentally-friendly cutlery, foam products, straws and kits. Dispoz-o was founded in 1963. For more information: www.dispozo.com.

About Wilkinson Industries, Inc.
Wilkinson Industries, Fort Calhoun, NE has been a leader in foodservice/restaurant, grocery and food processor packaging for more than 50 years. The company manufactures in excess of 450 packaging containers made from a variety of materials including aluminum foil, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and oriented polystyrene (OPS). Wilkinson also has taken a leadership position in the manufacturing of sustainable packaging by creating products from 100% renewable resources such as corn starch-based polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymer. For more information: www.wilkinsonindustries.com.