Lyons Magnus

Private equity firm Paine Schwartz Partners has invested in Fresno-based Lyons Magnus.

published on November 14, 2017 - 9:56 AM
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A  private equity firm with offices in New York and San Mateo has announced a strategic investment in Fresno-based Lyons Magnus, producer of foodservice products including fruit toppings, sauces, juices and syrups.

The financial terms of the investment by Paine Schwartz Partners was not disclosed. Bob Smittcamp, whose family has owned Lyons Magnus for more than 46 years, will continue to lead operations as chairman and CEO. He will also remain a “significant” shareholder in the company, according to a news release.

The executive team of Lyons Magnus — Kent Walrack, Jim Davis, Kris Porter, Jon Parker, Phil James, Brad Kirk and Steve Twet — will continue in their current roles in the business.

In a statement, Smittcamp said, “My family and I have dedicated the last 46-plus years to growing Lyons Magnus, and I believe that our decision to partner with the team from Paine Schwartz will help take our Company to the next level. Paine Schwartz brings extensive experience and understanding of the fruit business and the foodservice industry. I want to thank our strong team of dedicated and long-term employees, who played an important role in building Lyons Magnus into an industry leader. With the benefit of additional expertise and resources from Paine Schwartz, we look forward to continuing to provide customers with the high quality and unique portfolio of products they expect from us.”

This strategic investment deepens Smittcamp’s relationship with Paine Shwartz Partners, as the equity firm previously made a strategic investment in Wawona Packing Co., the peach farming and packing operation founded by Bob Smittcamp’s father, Earl, in 1948.

Bob Smittcamp’s son, Brent, continues to run Wawona Packing as president. People with knowledge of that deal said it was worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Originally founded in San Francisco as a wholesaler of wines, liquors, syrups and cordials, E.G. Lyons & Co. traces its roots to 1852. A 1929 merger with Magnus Fruit Products led to its current name, and it was acquired by Earl and Bob Smittcamp and relocated to the Valley in 1971. A second manufacturing and warehouse facility in Kentucky was established in 1983.

Kevin Schwartz, CEO and founding partner of Paine Schwartz, said in a statement, “In Lyons Magnus, we are making a strategic investment in an exciting growth platform in the foodservice sector that is a strong fit with our approach to investing in the food and agribusiness industry. We know the Smittcamp family well and have great admiration for what they have done to build the Lyons Magnus business. We believe Lyons Magnus is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for innovative foodservice products and we are extremely excited about the opportunity to partner with Bob and the rest of the management team to expand upon the Company’s tremendous heritage and strong market positions to drive the next stage of development.”

Paine Schwartz has a strategic focus in agribusiness, investing more than $1 billion in the sector over the last 10 years. Along with the Wawona Packing deal, the Lyons Magnus investment is part of its $893 million funding round dubbed “Food Chain Fund IV.”

William Blair served as exclusive financial advisor to Lyons Magnus in connection with the transaction.

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