Supplier Spotlights: Anheuser-Busch, Hershey & Ascentium Capital
NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.
Here are the latest supplier spotlights:
Anheuser-Busch extended its marketing partnership with the PGA Tour, continuing Michelob ULTRA's designation as Official Beer Sponsor of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions through 2020. As part of the renewal, O'Doul's will also continue to serve as the Official Non-Alcohol Brew of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions.
Michelob ULTRA will maintain a significant presence at more than 45 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and Web.com Tour. New stops in 2017 include the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, and the Presidents Cup at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.
"Michelob ULTRA is proud to continue its designation as the official beer sponsor of the PGA TOUR," said Eelco van der Noll, vice president, experiential marketing at Anheuser-Busch. "It allows us to interact with golf fans across the country and provide unique experiences only Michelob ULTRA can bring."
The beer brand will also expand its onsite fan engagement by adding more tournament stops for the mobile Build-a-Bar, a 40-foot high-end beer selling station featuring plasma screens and a rooftop viewing area.
Michelob ULTRA also became the Official Beer Sponsor of the World Surf League (WSL) in the U.S. Through this new partnership, Michelob ULTRA will be the exclusive beer sponsor of WSL events in the country.
This new partnership is part of Michelob ULTRA's strategy of driving continued growth by engaging drinkers who embrace and prioritize an active, balanced lifestyle, according to the company.
"As our brand continues to gain momentum, our new partnership with the World Surf League will further connect us to those who are passionate about living the active and balanced lifestyle that Michelob ULTRA celebrates," said Azania Andrews, vice president, Michelob ULTRA.
Finally, Michelob ULTRA formed another new partnership with Brooks Koepka, the world's 25th ranked golfer and 2016 Ryder Cup breakout player. This includes appearances at consumer events and inclusion in multimedia platforms.
"Michelob ULTRA has long been the go-to choice for golfers and golf fans alike. Our new pairing with Brooks Koepka further strengthens our connection to the game and reinforces our support for those who pursue active, balanced lifestyles," said Andrews. "As one of the sport's most impressive young stars, Brooks continues to ascend at a rapid pace and is an ideal fit for the fastest-growing beer brand in the U.S."
National commercial lender Ascentium Capital LLC announced that first quarter funded volume reached $225.1 million, representing 25.5 percent growth and managed $1.6 billion in assets, representing a 37.7 percent increase year over year in the first quarter of 2017.
Ascentium Capital also experienced a record month in March with $259.6 million in credit application volume.
"Our financial relationship platform powers our performance. We continue to scale our operations and integrated infrastructure to deliver positive business outcomes that benefit our equipment vendors and small business clients nationwide," said CEO Tom Depping.
The company specializes in providing a broad range of financing, leasing and small business loans.
Broaster Co. announced Team Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda, a key player in the Superbike class for the 2017 MotoAmerica season. This marks the first year Broaster's involvement with the RoadRace factory is elevated to a corporate-wide level of participation.
"We're excited to build our brand beyond foodservice as a part of the RoadRace Factory," said Jay Cipra, president and CEO of Broaster Co. "We're looking at some very exciting things for the future of the Broaster Co. Team Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda allows us to connect with our customers and consumers unlike never before. Our partnership gives our fans something more to cheer about."
Team Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda comprises the experienced team owner Danny Walker, veteran rider Jake Gagne and motorcycles and technical support from Honda.
The Carlin Group, a privately owned full-service brokerage and member of BeaconUnited, as well as a leading regional sales and marketing solutions company, acquired Des Moines, Iowa-based Johnson-Holmes & Associates.
"We're looking forward to having a stronger presence in Iowa and parts of Nebraska," said Jeff Mahler, president of Carlin Group. "Johnson-Holmes & Associates' deep local roots make the company a great match for our organization."
Johnson-Holmes & Associates customers include Farner-Bocken, Hy-Vee, Fareway, Casey's General Stores and Kum & Go convenience stores.
"We are excited about providing additional services and resources to our customers and management by becoming part of the Carlin Group," said Johnson-Holmes President and CEO Paul Johnson, son of the firm's founder, Paul Johnson Senior. He will continue to work with the Carlin Group.
A sister company to Swisher International, E-Alternative Solutions launched a national advertising campaign for its Cue Vapor System. Cue provides simple vaping in the form of a premium-performance, stylish device that can be operated with the click of a cartridge and the push of a button, according to the company.
As part of an effort to broaden the offerings of its foodservice business and accelerate the growth of the professional products business area, Electrolux acquired Louisville, Ky.-based Grindmaster-Cecilware, a manufacturer of hot, cold and frozen beverage dispensing equipment, including coffee machines. The cash deal was worth $108 million.
"We are very pleased to complement our portfolio with such an attractive range of beverage products, as the combination better meets customer needs, especially among food service chains," said Alberto Zanata, head of Electrolux business area professional products. "This move will also reinforce our presence in North America, one of the largest global markets for professional appliances."
Grindmaster-Cecilware has manufacturing facilities in Louisville and in Rayong, Thailand, and employed approximately 200 people. Its net sales exceeded $65 million in 2016.
The Hershey Co.
The Hershey Co. announced a five-year extension with CBS Sports, Turner Sports and the NCAA to continue its role as Official Confectionery Partner. Its Reese's brand will return as title sponsor of the Reese's College All-Star Game and will continue to host a kick-off to Final Four weekend with Reese's Final Four Friday.
"Reese's brand is all about fun and NCAA March Madness is arguably the most fun, exciting and highly-anticipated event in college sports," said Kristen Riggs, senior marketing director, Reese's brand. "We want to inspire fans and consumers to go for it and get into the game day spirit even more passionately than before. Whether on the basketball court, cheering in the stands or enjoying the action from home, Reese's brand wants to be a part of your celebrations; we couldn't be more thrilled to continue our partnership with the NCAA."
The Hershey Co. has been an official partner of the NCAA since 2009.
Inline Plastics Corp.
Inline Plastics Corp. added six new thermoforming lines, plus the expansion of its facilities, in response to the continued growth of its food packaging products.
In addition to the new production lines, Line added 157,200 square feet to its McDonough, Ga., facility, and is pursuing options to expand its facilities in Shelton, Conn., and Salt Lake City.
"As our business continues to grow, we are committed to continuously invest in capacity to ensure we have sufficient capacity to support our customer's requirements and maintain our very high fill rates" stated Jim Porcaro, vice president of operations.
Key benefits from the expansion will include consistent lead times, increased flexibility on special orders or service situations and expansion of local production capacity/capabilities.
ITW Food Equipment Group
For the 10th year running, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized ITW Food Equipment Group for its commitment to energy efficiency. The company received the EPA's Energy Star Partner of the Year — Sustained Excellence Award for 2017. ITW Food Equipment Group has earned Partner of the Year—Sustained Excellence awards since 2010 as well as Energy Star Partner of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
"ITW FEG has always been committed to energy and resource efficiency, for our customers, the industry and our own operations," said Lei Schlitz, executive vice president, ITW Food Equipment Group. "Being recognized by the EPA with an ENERGY STAR award every year for a decade is a validation of our commitment and the efficiency we design into our commercial food equipment, which professionals choose for consistently high performance across categories."
The Kraft Heinz Co.
Planters peanuts launched "Shout For Nuts," a new campaign that invites Americans to shout loud about their love of Planters mixed nuts, cashews and peanuts.
Coach Jim Harbaugh was invited to shout about his love of Planters snack nuts alongside consumers at a "Shout For Nuts" vending machine in Los Angeles. The "Shout For Nuts" vending machine, featured in the campaign videos, is modeled to look like a life-size can of nuts and dispenses Planters nuts when people shout about their love of nuts into its decibel-measuring panel. The louder consumers shout, the more nuts it dispenses.
Morinaga America Inc.
Hi-Chew fruit candy is partnering with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a second year to give players and fans the opportunity to savor the flavor of fun at the ballpark. Hi-Chew will host on-site activations, product sampling and surprise and delight elements during select home games throughout the 2017 season, and will be available for purchase at concession stands in Dodger Stadium.
"While Hi-Chew originated in Japan, here in the United States we call Los Angeles our home," said Norio Otsuki, chief operating officer of Morinaga America Inc. "Thus, we are so excited to be teaming up with the Los Angeles Dodgers once again to bring our delicious candies to the players and incredible fans."
Hi-Chew will also celebrate the little champions of the Los Angeles community by participating in a number of Dodger youth events and taking over the Play Zone at Dodger Stadium.
Nestlé Waters North America
Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water launched its "Greatness Springs from Here" marketing campaign to celebrate the uniqueness of the Poland Spring region and its people. Focused on the Northeast region where Poland Spring is sourced, the campaign highlights residents who pursue a passion, make a positive impact in their local community and have a personal story that defies conventions.
Edna Mitchell, an 88-year-old volunteer ambulance driver, is the first to be featured in the campaign.
"Edna's vitality and passion for helping people is what inspired us to share her story as part of the Greatness Springs from Here campaign. The positive impact she makes in her community embodies the kind of greatness we'd like to celebrate," said Amy Wirtanen, vice president/general manager, regional spring waters for Nestlé Waters North America. "As neighbors who live and work in Maine, our Poland Spring employees know there are many ordinary people doing extraordinary things throughout the region. We hope our campaign will instill a sense of pride among those who live in Maine and inspire others to share their stories," added Wirtanen.
Poland Spring is the first of Nestlé Waters North America's six regional spring water brands to launch the "Greatness Springs from Here" campaign.
Ready Pac Foods Inc.
France-based strategic buyer Bonduelle acquired Ready Pac Foods Inc., a provider of ready-to-eat salads, packaged salads, snacks and pre-cut fruit and vegetables.
"There continues to be strong interest in the M&A market for food and beverage brands and products that help consumers eat healthier and more conveniently," added Ryan Budlong, a managing director at Harris Williams & Co., a middle market investment bank that served as exclusive advisor to Ready Pac. "Ready Pac's proven ability to consistently innovate and introduce new products will undoubtedly aid the company's continued penetration of the retail and foodservice channels alongside its new global strategic partner, Bonduelle. We look forward to seeing what they are able to accomplish together."
Bonduelle, a family business, was established in 1853. Its mission is to be the world reference in "well-living" through vegetable products.
Wellbilt's Merrychef eikon e2s, the smallest high-speed oven with the largest cavity-to-footprint ratio, received a Green GOOD DESIGN Award. This awards program, founded by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and this year co-presented by The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, seeks to provide international recognition to companies, organizations, governments, institutions and individuals who demonstrate an inspired and exceptional level of progress towards a more sustainable and 'Green' way of working.
"It is important that Merrychef products are recognized for the cutting edge design and dedication to sustainability that forms a key part of our research, development and manufacturing process," said Vice President Marketing EMEA Graham Veal. "Most importantly however, is that our products are designed with simplicity at their heart; simple to install, simple to use and simple to clean and maintain. We are honored to have now received recognition from The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies with this new award."
The Merrychef eikon e2s provides measurable green features, including standby energy, noise levels and ease of cleaning.