Mason Wells acquires Calypso drink maker

PE firm adds King Juice Co. to portfolio

411 Building
Mason Wells is located in the 411 Building at 411 E. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee-based private equity firm Mason Wells has acquired Milwaukee-based King Juice Co. Inc., maker of Calypso brand drinks and other non-carbonated beverages.

411 Building
Mason Wells is located in the 411 Building at 411 E. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee.

Mason Wells, Calypso president Jeff Outlaw and other members of the management team acquired King Juice from the Kezman and Purpero families for an undisclosed price.

Tim Kezman, chief executive officer, will stay on as a consultant for a transitional period.

King Juice is a leading manufacturer of shelf-stable lemonades. It makes a variety of 20 flavored lemonades, limeades and teamonades under the Calypso umbrella that are distributed to 20 countries around the world. King also makes beverages for co-manufacturing customers. Its products are made with real fruit, real sugar and real fruit bits, and distributed in glass bottles. King Juice is located in a 123,000-square-foot facility on 6 acres at 851 W. Grange Ave. in Milwaukee.

Mason Wells, which has about $1 billion in assets under management, is investing out of its $615 million fourth private equity fund, Mason Wells Buyout Fund IV. It expected to invest in between 10 and 14 companies over four to five years with Fund IV, beginning in February 2016. So far, it has acquired King and Germantown-based MGS Mfg. Group Inc.

“King Juice possesses a unique combination of sophisticated manufacturing capability, a longstanding brand in the growing lemonade category and a national distribution network. We are proud of the beverage platform we have built at King Juice, and we are excited about the opportunity to partner with Mason Wells to continue the growth of the company,” said Tim Kezman, on behalf of the ownership group which includes the Kezman and Purpero families.

“We are extremely impressed with the workforce at King Juice, the industry leading manufacturing capabilities and the company’s market position in lemonade through the Calypso line of flavored lemonades,” said Ben Holbrook, managing director at Mason Wells. “These key factors, along with the relationships that King Juice has forged with its customers and suppliers, have enabled the business to achieve a high level of success over the past 30 years. We are delighted that (Calypso Brand president) Jeff Outlaw will continue to lead the Calypso brand, along with the strong sales and marketing team. We look forward to supporting and growing the team as they expand the company’s retail relationships and distribution network.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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