FoodIndustryNews225Norwest Equity Partners (“NEP”), a middle market investment firm, announced that it has made an investment in Old Hickory Smokehouse LLC (“Old Hickory” or “the Company”), a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of food and beverage products sold into the retail grocery and foodservice channels under both branded and private label offerings. NEP’s investment was made in partnership with Wayne Wolf, Old Hickory CEO. The transaction closed February 20, 2015; financial terms were not disclosed.

This investment is demonstrative of NEP’s investment partnership model which is focused on partnering with business owners and their management teams to build strong, growing companies into even greater industry leaders. Todd Solow, a NEP partner and Old Hickory board member, stated, “Our firm has been actively seeking investments in this segment, and to have the opportunity to partner with an industry veteran such as Wayne Wolf and be involved with a company that is well-positioned for continued growth is very exciting. The Company’s focus on prepared meats and accessories is attractive due to a large addressable market and multiple growth opportunities.”

Old Hickory is led by Wayne Wolf, an industry veteran with a variety of Corporate Officer experiences during his 30+ year career at McDonald's including restaurant operations, supply chain and corporate strategy. During that career, McDonald's acquired Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Wayne served on its Board. Prior to transitioning to a new career phase as an investor entrepreneur, Wayne was President of an international software and technology services firm funded through the venture capital community. Old Hickory benefits from his unique experiences and a highly-experienced ownership vested management team readying the company for significant growth and market penetration.

Old Hickory is differentiated within the BBQ segment through its partnership with Myron Mixon, a nationally-known Pitmaster and leader in the BBQ segment. Mixon has won numerous BBQ championships, is a 2013 BBQ Hall of Fame inductee, and serves as the host of “BBQ Pitmasters” on Destination America, a show now in its sixth season with over 750,000 viewers per episode. Mixon is also the author of the New York Times bestselling cookbook, “Smokin’ with Myron Mixon.” Through this partnership, the Old Hickory development team has designed equipment and utilized Myron's recipes to consistently produce "competition quality" products. Old Hickory uses the same techniques and processes Myron uses today to earn the title "King of BBQ.” Myron and the Old Hickory team believe these products have not been available commercially until now.