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June 2, 2017 | last updated June 2, 2017 12:50 pm

Netherlands company acquires South Portland's Grow-Tech

Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Grow-Tech's Director of Business Development James Chittum shows a new mixing line to AAI President Peter V. Anania.

About Anania & Associates

Anania & Associates Investment Co. LLC is a Maine-based private equity firm that partners with management teams acquiring and building companies with a high potential for growth. Founded in 2008, the fund currently has seven portfolio companies representing over 400 employees and $70 million in revenue. AAI is a long-term, regionally focused investor focused on supporting sustainable growth for Maine and its portfolio companies, which include: Elmet Technologies LLC, Grow-Tech LLC, Lighthouse Imaging LLC, MEGA Industries LLC, mWAVE Industries LLC, Synergistic Software Solutions LLC and TrakTec LLC.

Anania & Associates Investment Co. announced today that it has sold Grow-Tech LLC, one of its portfolio companies, to the Netherlands-based floricultural company Dümmen Orange for an undisclosed price.

Peter V. Anania, president of AAI, told Mainebiz that Grow-Tech, which is based in South Portland, had doubled its workforce and had grown by 700% since becoming a portfolio company of AAI in 2010.

Grow-Tech, which started in a small factory in Lisbon Falls, is now based in a 30,000-square-foot facility in South Portland and in 2016 was honored as South Portland's "Business of the Year."

Grow-Tech engineers and manufactures soilless growing media from the highest quality organic peat, other organics and a proprietary foam binder. It estimates it will have nearly $10 million in revenue this year, Anania said.

Grow-Tech has 26 full-time employees and a similar number who work part time. Grow-Tech's management and employees and its day-to-day operation changes will remain the same under the new ownership.

Anania said Dümmen Orange — a global leader in the breeding and development of cut flowers and potted plants, with 7,000 employees and an international reach — purchased Grow-Tech on the strength of its workforce and the manufacturing capabilities of its South Portland facility.

"The good thing about this acquisition is that they have some technology they want to bring here that could expand Grow-Tech's sales globally and increase the workforce 20% to 30%," Anania said.

Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Grow-Tech CEO Edwin Dijkshoorn stands outside the company's factory in South Portland for a portrait. Dijkshoorn has served as Grow-Tech's CEO since 2009.

Grow-Tech CEO Edwin Dijkshoorn added: "Grow-Tech is proud to already have a wide global reach, but with this acquisition, we will be able to further strengthen our position in the plug market as we join with an industry leader that operating on a global scale."

About Grow-Tech and its new owner

Mainebiz Senior Writer Renee Cordes, in her previous stint as an m&a reporter in Belgium, reported on Dümmen Orange in 2016, noting that it was the world's leading breeder of cut flowers, potted plants and bedding plants with a 12% market share, with 2015 sales of around €182 million, up from €165 million in 2014. Dümmen Orange is a portfolio company of private equity firm BC Partners, which bought it for €503 million in 2015.

AAI's news release said Dümmen Orange had 7,000 employees and is committed to increasing sustainability, a mission which Grow-Tech's products will help them to achieve.

Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Grow-Tech employee Gerard Jacques tapes a box as he works on the South Portland company's retail packaging line.

According to its website, Grow-Tech engineers and manufactures soil-less growing media from the highest quality organic peat, other organics and a proprietary foam binder. Its growing media are used by forestry, horticulture, floriculture, and hydroponics customers in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia to start seeds and root cuttings.

The company and its products got their start in the 1980s when Dole Foods was searching for a solution to improve their lettuce seeding operation. The collaboration of Dole and the company that would become Grow-Tech provided Dole with a technology initially developed by NASA.

Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Two hoppers at Grow-Tech's South Portland factory, which are used to mix growing substrate.

Over its decades in operation, Grow-Tech has been a leader in the development of biobased growing media. In 2014 the company received a U.S. Department of Agriculture Grant to assist with the development of BioStrate, an industry-first growing medium that can be disposed of in a commercial composting facility instead of being disposed of in a landfill.

Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
Courtesy / Anania & Associates Investment Co.
FlexiPlugs manufactured at Grow-Tech's South Portland factory coming off the manufacturing line.

In 2016 the company expanded its product line and rolled out two major new offerings: Puregrown hemp-felt, which is used in the organic production of micro-greens, salad greens and wheatgrass, and the ZenPlug, which facilitates easy transplanting of tissue culture starts and pre-rooted cuttings.

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