Combs Produce executives remain after Lipman purchase - The Packer

Combs Produce executives remain after Lipman purchase

06/01/2012 02:16:00 PM
Dan Galbraith

LipmanMost executives from Combs Produce, Dallas, are keeping their jobs after field tomato growing giant Lipman, Immokalee, Fla., bought Combs’ Dallas facility.

Other operations owned by Combs, a tomato repacker and produce distributor, were not part of the deal, Darren Micelle, Lipman’s chief marketing and operations officer, said in an e-mail.

Former Combs CEO Jeff Partridge is part of another ownership group affiliated with Combs and will not be moving forward with Lipman on his own accord, Micelle said. Van Argiros will remain as vice president of sales and marketing but will take on an expanded, national role with Lipman. James Baker will continue as foodservice sales manager, he said.

The May 31 deal is Lipman’s third acquisition in the past six months and expands Lipman’s reach in Texas and the Southwest.

“From a geographic standpoint, the recent acquisitions have enhanced Lipman’s ability to distribute product to 75% of the country,” Micelle said. “Our goal is to distribute produce on a national level and to continue to increase our geographic production diversity. We are open to future acquisitions that help to achieve those goals.”

Micelle declined to disclose cost of the sale of the Combs Produce Dallas facility.

“The Southwest market is a key component of our growth plan,” Kent Shoemaker, Lipman chief executive officer, said in a news release. “Combs Produce was our first choice and simply the perfect fit. They are highly respected in the fresh produce industry and share our core values.”

Brett Combs, who has served in leadership roles with the company founded by his grandfather since 1990, said the deal gives the company “access to the acre.”

“Our customers want to deal directly with farmers, and now we are part of a farming company,” Combs said in the release.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the partnership with CIC Partners,” Combs said in a news release issued by CIC Partners LP, a Dallas-based private equity firm. “CIC Partners brought the resources, team and capability to better position Combs. As a result, our customers, employees and shareholders will benefit tremendously from this transaction.”

In February, Lipman bought a San Antonio tomato repacking facility from Delta Produce LP and bought Winston-Salem, N.C.-based repacker Branscomb Produce Co.

In November 2011, Lipman expanded in the Pacific Northwest, buying Portland, Ore.-based Coastal Brokers Inc.

Lipman, which formerly marketed its tomatoes and vegetables through Six L’s Packing Co. Inc. and Custom Pak, offers a full line of vegetables and tomatoes from Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, California and Mexico.



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