Mergermarket – March 19, 2014

The Legacy Companies, a privately held manufacturer of home appliances, kitchen tools and food service equipment, is actively seeking acquisitions to add to its portfolio of brands, said Neal Asbury, founder and chief executive.

Asbury, in Chicago for the annual International Home + Housewares Show, said the company is working on five acquisitions right now that are in various stages of completion. Three of the targets are in the US. Asbury declined to go into specifics on the five companies, citing confidentiality agreements.

The Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based company, which generates annual revenue of USD 180m, is looking for acquisitions related to its core housewares categories, Asbury explained, including both makers of home appliances and companies that manufacture kitchen accessories.

Legacy was founded in 1998 as two operating entities, Asbury Food Service and Greenfield WorldTrade. The company’s US brands, including several entities that either developed or perfected early versions of well-known appliances and gadgets, are Blakeslee, a maker of dishwashing machines; Excalibur,a specialist in home food dehydration machines; General, a maker of mixers, slicers and other kitchen equipment; Kold-Draft, manufacturer of a horizontal ice-making system used by restaurants worldwide; refrigerator and freezer manufacturer Maxximum; Omega, a maker of juicers; and Zeroll, developer of an ice-cream dipper.

The company purchased Omega in 2009, Blakeslee and Excalibur in 2011, and completed its buy of Kold-Draft last May. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Excalibur buy was estimated at USD 30m, according to a bio of Asbury from his radio show, Neal Asbury’s Made in America.

Legacy’s international arm, Greenfield WorldTrade, distributes products made by US manufacturers in 130 countries around the world.

Kitchen items related to health and wellness, such as juicers, blenders, food dehydration units, water purifiers and air purifiers show great potential for growth over the next one to two years, Asbury explained, even after gaining significant traction in the past several years. Legacy intends to ramp up spending on new product development in these areas.

Asbury explained that one of the factors driving Legacy’s acquisition strategy is a desire to set up the most efficient supply chain for its customers across a wide geographic footprint. “Sometimes an acquisition could be to buy a product line, but sometimes it could be to get its distribution capabilities,” he said.

The company is approached by suitors “all the time,” Asbury said, both strategics and private equity firms, but Legacy is not interested in selling a full or partial stake. “I always say to them, ‘since our company’s not for sale, maybe you have something you’d like to sell me,’” Asbury said.

Legacy is 100% management-owned. Its primary bankers have been PNC Bank and Medley Capital Corp., but Legacy will accept ideas about possible acquisition targets from other financial advisors. Novela Law is Legacy’s law firm.

Last year, the company refinanced a USD 90m loan from PNC and Medley. Because it is in acquisition mode, the company may need to take on more debt to fund its activities, Asbury said.

Consolidation in the housewares industry could pick up in the coming year, Asbury said. “You have so many entrepreneurs who are worried about the future, so they’re selling. You have big financial institutions that are getting into the space and big ones trying to get out of it. This is what happens in a difficult economy.”

Asbury began his career in 1979 at Inchcape PLC, an automotive retailer and distributor. He founded Asbury WorldWide, an export-management company, in 1987, and two years later, in Manila, Philippines, created FAB Asia Inc., a fabricator of kitchens for US restaurant chains in Asia, including McDonalds.A decade later he created what became The Legacy Companies. Since 2006, he has hosted the syndicated radio talk show Neal Asbury’s Made In America, which is on stations affiliated with Talk Radio Network, Salem Communications and other groups.

by David  B. Wilkerson in Chicago

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