That gorilla grew fast!
After just over two years in business, raw nuts and seeds snack brand Gorilly Goods) has sold a controlling stake of the company to cereal and snack company Nature’s Path.
Currently in about 1,000 stores, Gorilly Goods, started by the husband-and-wife team of Stephen and Chris McDiarmid, officially launched at the 2015 Expo East show in Baltimore. At the 2016 Expo West show in Anaheim, the snack company was selected as one of the three finalists in Nature’s Path’s “Seed to Sprout Pitch Slam.”
Although Gorilly ultimately lost the contest, it served as a conversation-starter between between McDiarmid and Nature’s Path President and Founder Arran Stephens.
At the time, the McDiarmids had been looking for funding, but were not considering selling quite so much equity. “We did not anticipate an acquisition or merger of any kind because we had our sights set on just securing funding,” Stephen McDiarmid told NOSH. “Mostly because we knew we were so small and so young and just getting into the space.”
After meeting the Nature’s Path team, learning its values, and seeing that it was family run, the McDiarmids felt comfortable moving ahead. “As we got to meet their family, and they got to know us, we really felt that we were really getting an ally with similar missions and similar values at the core,” McDiarmid noted.
The deal took six months of due diligence and negotiations, closing right before this year’s Expo East show. The Baltimore trade show also served as the launch for Gorilly Goods’ new smaller stick packs which are designed to be more appealing as a grab-and-go, single-serving option.
There’s still room for the McDiarmids to grow the business further before future investment rounds, in which Nature’s Path will have the first option to buy the rest of the company.
“It’s 51 percent, so technically people would consider it an acquisition because in many ways control has shifted,” McDiarmid said. “But the way the structure is and the way its structured with subsequent plans, it remains pretty close to a partnership.”
Nature’s Path previously acquired Que Pasa Mexican foods as well as Country Choice Organic. Gorilly Goods marks its first acquisition of a smaller, more niche brand.
Stephens told NOSH that acquisition is a key strategy for the brand. “Our goal at Nature’s Path is to have organic and non-GMO food in every home,” Stephens noted. “Acquisitions complement our product innovation to achieve our business objectives.”
Like Que Pasa, Gorilly Goods will maintain it’s own look and feel. McDiarmid told NOSH that the team will remain in place operating out of Wisconsin, coincidentally near another Nature’s Path plant.
The snack brand will utilize Nature’s Path’s distribution and sales networks to expand their reach.
“We felt that by gaining the network, the operational aspects of Nature’s Path, along with the capital, was great at this time of our development,” McDiarmid said. “I don’t know who else we would have done it with besides Nature’s Path, because of their family nature. We felt we were adding to our family or they were adding to their family…To us it’s almost still in the family.”