Deal of the Year Award Winners, 2016

Our Deal of the Year winner this year is a bakery that started out as a regional operation in Chicago, and under the guidance of its private equity owners, expanded its customer base to include WalMart Stores Inc and Burger King Corp.

This is the kind of story we love to hear about when judging Deal of the Year entries — it represents the value private equity can bring to the table: taking a family-owned, regional business and growing it.

All of our submissions this year had aspects that could qualify them for top honors, which made it tough to narrow our list down to five. It’s refreshing to see so many of you take such pride in your work. Many of the submissions we received comprised multi-page write-ups that reflected the joy you took in telling the story of your deals.

So, it’s with great pleasure, that I announce our Deal of the Year winners for 2016. Each one represents the hard work, dedication and pride you put into your work:

  • Deal of the Year/Middle Market Deal of the Year: Arbor Investments for Gold Standard Baking, which makes low-cost croissants and Danishes.
  • Large Market Deal of the Year: Charlesbank Capital Partners for FullBeauty Brands, a specialist in plus-sized clothing.
  • Small Market Deal of the Year: The Riverside Company for Eemax, a maker of tankless water heaters for commercial, residential and industrial properties.
  • European Deal of the Year: GTCR for Premium Credit Ltd, which provides insurance premium financing to small businesses and individuals.
  • Turnaround Deal of the Year: Sun Capital Partners for Point Blank Enterprises Inc, which makes body armor for law enforcement and military officers around the world.

Why did these companies win? Performance played a big part in our selection. But we also looked at other factors. Point Blank Enterprises was formed from three struggling businesses, two of which were acquired out of bankruptcy. FullBeauty Brands targeted a neglected corner of the retail market — fashionable clothing for plus-sized people. Premium Credit Ltd expanded its reach through Europe at a time when the overall region struggled through an economic downturn. Finally, Eemax expanded its market from mostly commercial buyers into the residential market.

Congratulations to all the winners, and to everyone who submitted their deals for consideration. All of the deals we reviewed are a testament to the good work being done every day by private equity firms.

Photo of gold cup courtesy of ©iStock/StockFinland