Deal Watch: The making of an onion giant


There were no tears shed when two Hermiston onion companies joined forces in April.


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There were no tears shed when two Hermiston onion companies joined forces in April. With the help of capital from Dallas-based CIC Partners, Bob Hale’s American Onion and Joe Graziano’s Rivergate Farms merged to form River Point Farms, which, they’re saying (and so far nobody has called them out on it) is now the largest grower and processor of yellow, red and sweet onions. Hale won’t say how much he expects in sales this year, only that 500 year-round employees will produce 400 million pounds of River Point onions.

It was a match made in vegetable heaven. Graziano, whose family’s produce trucks have been a fixture in Oregon for generations, claims the nickname “the Onion King.” In 2003 (three years after selling his produce business to Del Monte) he introduced a new way of cutting oinions to increase their shelf-life. Hale, meanwhile, was actively going after the fast-casual restaurant chain business. The two worked closely together, American growing the onions, Rivergate cutting them up. As Hale puts it: “It made sense to roll the companies together.”

Enter CIC, a bunch of former restaurant guys (other CIC investments include Quiznos and the largest TGI Fridays franchise) who recognized the opportunity. What’s next for River Point? Hale, the new company’s president, points out that the onion business is “highly fragmented.” Translation: Watch this space for future onion acquisitions.
— Christina Williams


1-MayInternational Airport Centers LLC (IL)industrial facility (Fairview)Fairview Development LLC (Fairview)$17m
30-AprRE No One LLCHillsboro Promenade (Hillsboro)Hillsboro Promenade LLC$10.1m
25-AprUnico Properties LLC (WA) and JP Morgan Investment ManagementReflections of Summer Creek (Beaverton)Undisclosed private entity$37m
24-AprRichard J. Bennettindustrial property (Portland)Weston William McGaa Irrevocable Trust$1.9m
17-AprCalloway Real Estate Investment Trust (Toronto)2 retail centers (Portland & Albany)SmartCentres of Toronto$35m
13-AprScanlanKemperBard Companies LLC (Portland)office building (CO)ND$45.55m
4-AprGuardian Management LLC (Portland)residential apartments (WA)NDND
4-AprClackamas Countyindustrial building (Oregon City)RS 7 LLC$3.68m
2-AprGuardian Management LLC (Portland)residential apartments (AZ)NDND



1-MayQ2 ‘ 07Cascade Corporation (Fairview)American Compaction Equipment (CA)ND
1-MayQ2 ‘ 07MSI-PRO Co. (North Plains)/Jewett-Cameron Trading Company product linesND
30-AprNDAventura Resorts (WA)RV resort (Mosier)ND
24-AprQ2 ‘ 07CIC Partners (TX)American Onion; Rivergate Farms, LLC (Hermiston)ND
21-AprQ2 ‘ 07Brookfield Asset Management (Toronto)Longview Fibre Co. (WA)$2.15b
16-AprQ3 ‘07Ruth’s Chris Steak House (FL)Portland franchised restaurant~$4.5m
16-AprQ2 ‘ 07Chockstone (Portland)Peppercoin (MA)ND
11-AprQ2 ‘ 07Undisclosed investment groupJackson & Perkins business (Medford)/Harry & David Holdings$21m (cash+earn-out)
4-AprQ2 ‘ 07SP Industries/Riverlake Partners LLC (Portland)Genevac Ltd. (England)/Thermo Fisher ScientificND
3-AprQ2 ‘07Tougi (Portland)/Nettel HoldingsHTD Co. (Vietnam)ND
2-AprQ2 ‘ 07UxComm (Beaverton)Virtugo Software (CA)ND
2-AprQ2 ‘ 07McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants (Portland)The Boathouse restaurants/Spectra Group of Great Restaurants (Vancouver, BC)$14.3m
30-MarQ2 ‘07GreenWood Tree Farm L.P./Portlandpoplar tree farm (Boardman) /Potlatch Corporation$65m



16-AprCollaborative Software Initiative (Portland)/Stuart Cohen, CEOOVP Venture PartnersND
10-AprEnsequence (Portland)/Dalen Harrison, CEOND$40m (Series C)
10-Apriovation (Portland)/Greg Pierson, President, CEO & FounderNDND (Series A)

List researched by Mark Druskoff


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