In January, Mike Hackley got a call from a New York-based investment adviser who helps clients scout for potential opportunities.
As the largest online retailer in the nation of high-end barbecue grills and outdoor products, Hackley’s 20-year-old, Baton Rouge-based BBQGuys, which had 2019 revenues of some $131 million, was just the kind of company the adviser was looking for.
Would Hackley be interested in talking to one of his clients—a private equity group?
“I wasn’t feeling it back in January,” Hackley says. “But we had a preliminary conversation and they said they’d sign a nondisclosure agreement. So, I sent them the paperwork on our company.”
Then, the pandemic hit, sending the world into a tailspin and Hackley—one of COVID-19’s early patients—to his sick bed for nearly a month. It was a bad case and when the 54-year-old recovered, he had a different perspective on the world and his work-life balance.
“It was like, ‘What are you doing? You’re working all the time,’” he recalls. “’You’ve grown this company into a huge company and now it’s time to kick back and spend time with the children and grandchildren.’”
So, when the interested buyers called back in early May, this time Hackley was all ears.
Within three months, he’d finalized a deal to sell BBQGuys and its sister company, Blaze Outdoor Products, to the group, an upstart private equity firm called Brand Velocity Partners. Though the sale price was not disclosed, sources familiar with the transaction say the amount was somewhere in the range of $140 million.
In the months ahead, the new owners plan to rebrand BBQGuys, potentially with help from some of their high-profile investors, which include Louisiana’s first family of football, Archie, Peyton, Eli and Cooper Manning.