Based in Chilliwack, B.C., Anita’s Organic Mill is one of Canada’s largest organic flour mills and has been providing customers with wholesome, healthy grain products for over 20 years. Started by Anita herself, the company has been family-run for the past ten years and has continued to grow significantly as the demand for raw, non-GMO, organic products has increased. “Organic food is on an upward trend, especially over the past few years.
British Columbia is a leader in this market space, but we’re starting to see growth in all parts of Canada,” says owner, Taylor Gemmel. “Our long-term goal at Anita’s Organic Mill is to help all consumers understand the importance of eating organically and provide healthy, delicious products they can trust. We’d like our products in every home pantry in Canada, and eventually North America and beyond.”
With that big goal in mind, Anita’s is expanding its business starting with the transfer of ownership to long-time general manager, Taylor. “Our business has been growing at a steady rate and this change will allow us to consolidate our operations and create efficiencies. This will be essential as we continue to improve our internal logistics, quality control and continue to push sales across Canada,” explains Taylor. “It also creates opportunity and stability for our incredible staff.” Anita’s was all set to finance the management buyout (MBO) through another institution when its business consultant suggested Taylor meet with First West Capital.
“Our consultant had an amazing experience with First West Capital,” Taylor says. “Right away, their attention to our story and understanding of our situation was apparent – I really appreciated the personal connection. They were very clear on how they could help. I left that meeting feeling very confident that First West Capital would be the right financial partner for the MBO.”
First West Capital was able to provide flexible terms to Anita’s, giving breathing room to transition into the new ownership structure without hindering growth opportunities. “I was surprised, and impressed, how quickly everything fell into place. They were very helpful in creating terms that gave us options, which was essential in negotiations with the seller,” Taylor adds. “We love working with dynamic, growing businesses like Anita’s,” says Steve Chen, Managing Director at First West Capital. “Taylor and the team have diversified the business to include over 75 grain-based products distributed across Canada, meeting the growing demand for nutritious, organic ingredients. We’re very proud to support the management buyout and to be a partner in the company’s continued expansion.”
A unique part of the deal structure is an option for future equity investment. “We offered Anita’s an extra layer of flexibility through the option for us to become an equity partner in the future if they require. This allows them to be strategic about financing additional growth opportunities,” says Chen. Looking ahead, Anita’s will continue to develop new products to delight health-conscious consumers and explore new regional markets across Canada.
“We continue to see large grocery chains providing more organic options as buying habits trend toward plant-based, simple and healthy foods,” says Taylor. “In particular, we have seen the popularity of sprouted grain and flour, vegan and gluten-free baking options. We are positioned well with our state of the art sprouting system and the recent addition of a gluten-free mill and packaging facility to meet the needs of these expanding markets.”
Taylor concludes, “Financing from First West Capital allows us to take a long-term view on our growth and capitalize on industry trends, while simultaneously streamlining our operations. Perhaps more importantly, the open, honest relationship we have cultivated will allow us to pursue future opportunities. It’s a really exciting time for our business.”