Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm
Three Milwaukee executives have joined with a seasoned food industry leader to form a new private equity firm dedicated to investing in food startups.
Arbel Growth Partners was established in February in Milwaukee, said Adam Peck, co-founder and managing partner, who is also founder and chief investment officer at Milwaukee investment advisory firm Riverwater Partners LLC.
Peck’s co-founders are Scott Lurie, founder and president of restaurant and catering business operator F Street Group and lender Milwaukee Hard Money; Eric Lenzen, a mergers and acquisitions attorney at the Milwaukee office of Husch Blackwell LLP and an experienced private equity and venture investor; and Carl E. Lee, the former president and chief executive officer of Snyder’s-Lance Inc., maker of snack foods Snyder’s of Hanover, Cape Cod and Pop Secret.
The group came together after raising and investing $10 million to buy a 51 percent stake in Sky Valley Foods LLC, a Virginia organic food manufacturer with Milwaukee roots in the fall.
Lee will serve as CEO of Arbel, and the group will rely on his expertise in the food industry to conduct due diligence on potential investments, Peck said.
“He has a vast network in the food industry and so we are capitalizing on his network and history in the food business to help emerging natural and organic brands grow,” he said.
Arbel is currently raising its first fund, which has a range of $10 million to $50 million. According to a recent SEC filing, $1.85 million has been raised from six investors since the fund was launched Feb. 16. The Arbel co-founders have all invested in the fund, Peck said.
“This will allow us to buy multiple companies under the same corporate umbrella,” he said. “We’ve got one company under funding and we’ve got LOIs with, I’d say, three other companies.”
The firm that has received an undisclosed investment is Glendale, California-based Alpha Foods. It plans to seek investors and investments nationwide, but expects the founders’ networks will lead to some deals in Milwaukee.