Birdola purchased by Spectrum Brands

December 20, 2010
| By Pete Daly |
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Seed Resources LLC, a Grand Rapids company that does business under the Birdola brand of seed cakes and related products for wild birds and squirrels, has been acquired by United Pet Group of Cincinnati.

United Pet Group’s owner, Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc. of Madison, Wis., announced recently that on Dec. 3, it had “completed an accretive $12.5 million, bolt-on acquisition of Seed Resources LLC at an attractive multiple of EBITDA.”

Frank Hoogland, who owned Birdola along with Dan Pfeiffer for the past 14 years and will continue to manage the plant at 1650 Broadway NW for another year or so, said United Pet Group had been supplied with certain products from a plant in China, but will now have that production done here.

“We will actually be expanding our production in Grand Rapids, and doing some hiring in Grand Rapids, to help us manufacture these products. That’s a little unique these days: Instead of going over to China, (jobs are) going to be coming from China to Grand Rapids,” said Hoogland.

He said Birdola would be adding “somewhere between 12 and 15” employees, with hiring probably starting in May or June.

Birdola uses corn grown in Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties, but other grains it uses in its products come from other parts of the U.S. and some from Nigeria, Ethiopia and Pakistan.

The expansion of Birdola also will include a redesign of the plant layout and acquisition of more machinery, according to Hoogland.

“United Pet Group is one of the largest players in the pet space; they have a number of different, strong brands,” said Hoogland.

Those brands include the Wild Harvest Eight-In-One products for domestic birds, and the Tetra brand of products for tropical fish.

According to an announcement from Spectrum Brands: “Seed Resources, with Birdola’s strong brand equity, has developed a substantial share of the premium domestic wild bird seed cake business.” Other Seed Resources products include bird feeders, suet cakes and combination seed cake and suet.

“We plan to expand distribution for Birdola into such key channels as mass merchandisers, specialty pet retailers and other retail outlets, given our well-established presence with these customers,” said John Heil, president of United Pet Group.

Hoogland said Birdola has the largest share of the U.S. seed cake market and the products are sold at retailers that include Petco, Pet Smart, Lowe’s and Meijer.

According to the Birdola website, the company was founded in 1988 and began experimenting with ways to create a solid block of seeds that would reduce waste of seed by spilling and allow a greater number of wild birds to feed simultaneously than at regular feeders. Eventually, the founder, Don Metz, and his staff came up with the idea to use a nutritional protein binder and introduced bird seed cakes on the market.

In 2008, the company celebrated its 20th anniversary with the production of a 700-pound seed cake, which it donated to Blandford Nature Center in northwest Grand Rapids for its wild birds, squirrels and chipmunks to nibble on. Birdola worked with the Guinness Book of World Records to have it listed as a record, but British bird lovers recently cooked up a wild bird seed cake that weighed well over a ton.

Spectrum Brands Holdings (NYSE: SPB) emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2009, and its Dec. 6 report on fiscal 2010 results states that it is now a $3.1 billion company with its merger with Russell Hobbs Inc. in June. Russell Hobbs is a combination of small appliance brands, including Black & Decker, George Foreman, Littermaid, Farberware, and Toastmaster.

Spectrum Brands Holdings also owns the Rayovac batteries brand and Remington shavers, and has a home-and-garden products division.

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