How Eurazeo Backed the Merger of a Digital-First Startup With a 90-Year-Old, Family-Owned Dewey's

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How Eurazeo Backed the Merger of a Digital-First Startup With a 90-Year-Old, Family-Owned Dewey's

By Alarice Rajagopal - 10/16/2020

Dewey’s Bakery has been “Creating Sweet Moments Since 1930,” running its family-owned business for generations. On the other hand, Farm & Oven Snacks is an e-commerce-first startup created by a couple ex-senior marketing executives by way of Fortune 500 companies including Campbell Soup, Kraft Foods and Nabisco (Mondelez), among others. However, the two companies recently announced their merger, with Eurazeo Brands as a new investor in the combined businesses. 

So how did the two converge? This all began when Eurazeo, the private equity investor, discovered Dewey’s at a trade show and was impressed with a delicious, clean label product line. Eurazeo later introduced Mike Senackerib (now Dewey’s Bakery CEO) and company chairman Scott Livengood.

It was not long before Senackerib and Livengood figured out that they had something much bigger together. They formed a great working partnership and agreed that Farm & Oven could fit within Dewey’s. The investment by Eurazeo has helped bring this to fruition, providing funding for resources to accelerate growth.

Along with the newly formed partnership, former Farm & Oven Founder Mike Senackerib brought his deep background in CPG, leading many businesses at Kraft, Nabisco and Campbell’s. He has spent much of career in snacking, having led the Nabisco Cookie and Cracker business, Planters Nuts, and Global Snacks for Kraft and Campbell’s.

His unique combination of having run a start-up and Fortune 500 executive roles are expected to make him a great fit for Dewey’s. He will draw on his large and start-up snack experience, to build the brand and the capabilities needed to achieve the ambitious vision.

Senackerib brings with him co-founder of Farm & Oven Kay Allison. Allison and Senackerib both have deep marketing roots, which will be critical in next phase of growth. Allison’s expertise in insights, innovation and brand positioning, combined with her more recently developed skill in building Farm & Oven as an “e-commerce-first” brand, will be a boost to the growth and development of Dewey’s.

“Dewey’s makes terrific products and has a rich history.  Kay will draw upon the local bakery brand heritage and increase Dewey’s relevance as national brand,” according to Livengood.

Here, we ask Senackerib and Livengood five questions on the newly formed company’s plans for integrating the startup with a 90-year-old family-owned business.

CGT: How does Dewey's plan on boosting marketing and manufacturing plans?
Senackerib and Livengood: We see an opportunity for Dewey’s to be one of the leading premium cookie and cracker brands with its terrific product line. We are planning to increase marketing spending, capabilities and people resources to achieve this vision. In particular, we will be increasing our digital, social and mobile presence. We also view the changes in the way people shop as key area of focus  to strengthen e-commerce and click-and-collect capabilities.

On the manufacturing side, we will invest in capital to increase automation and expand capacity to keep up with volume growth. The ERP system will likely be enhanced, or at least better leveraged to accommodate a larger, and more complex portfolio as the business expands.

CGT: What is the goal for the Farm & Oven brand in this new portfolio?
Senackerib and Livengood: Farm & Oven fills the role of healthy snack alternative in the Dewey’s portfolio which adds incremental growth. The breadth of resources at Dewey’s Bakery, and its manufacturing capabilities present an opportunity for Farm & Oven to broaden its product offerings and presence while remaining true to its healthful positioning. 

CGT: Are there plans to streamline technologies and processes?
Senackerib and Livengood: The most immediate integration opportunity is manufacturing. Dewey’s capacity and broad baking production capabilities make it easy to absorb Farm & Oven production in Winston-Salem, NC. Secondly, Farm & Oven will be integrated into Dewey’s ERP System within the first several months. Third, we will be reviewing the e-commerce, e-mail, fulfillment and EDI systems to figure out the smartest path forward for the brands.

CGT: What are some best practices learned from integrating the two brands (especially during a pandemic)?
Senackerib and Livengood: We chose not to let the pandemic get in the way of the plan to integrate the businesses given the strategic opportunity. What has changed is how we communicate and how we share information to facilitate the integration. Like so many others, we are in constant video communication to minimize travel. Online data systems make it easy to share information. For example, we are able to share all of the Farm & Oven production information with the Dewey’s team, enabling a speedy transition and adhering to social distancing guidelines.

CGT: How can brands remain resilient during a major disruption like COVID-19?
Senackerib and Livengood: One of the great challenges of a major disruption such as COVID-19 is quickly recognizing the changing consumer purchasing and consumption patterns. Companies then need to be bold and nimble enough to adapt.

For example, with less browsing for new products in brick-and-mortar stores, earlier stage brands likely have more growth opportunity in e-commerce and click-and-collect distribution. Portable, on-the-go brands need to adapt their message to a “work from home” workforce to remain relevant.

One thing we know is that people still need to eat. It is a question of adapting communication and channel focus in real time to the changing behaviors and perceptions.

We are so happy to be part of a “good news” story during these uncertain times! That is a testament to the great partnership developed!