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Gill Studios Acquires Barton Nelson


As first reported in a Breaking News Alert on Friday, Top 40 firm Gill Studios (asi/56950) has acquired the assets and brand of recently-closed supplier Barton Nelson (formerly asi/38670). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but as a result of the transaction, a new company – Gill Bebco LLC – has been formed.

Going forward, though, the Gill Studios and Bebco offerings will be marketed and sold separately as different lines. The Bebco Line will include products such as sticky notes, scratch pads, and related items.

"The acquisition was an opportunity instead of a planned strategy," Paul Lage, CEO of Gill Studios, told Counselor. "Gill is an expert with adhesives and in printing on flat materials. Therefore, it is a good fit. There are some differences between the two companies and that's why we will keep them separate."

Barton (BNI) operations – which shut down in June after 50 years in business – will resume out of its facility in Kansas City, just 10 miles from Gill Studios. As part of the reopening, according to Lage, Gill has plans to hire approximately 40 former BNI employees. "We are still evaluating some product lines so our numbers aren't firm," Lage said. "There are several management positions that will be rehired. We will also share some of the administrative functions with Gill Studios. Our goal has always been to hire back as many people as possible and preserve knowledge of the company."

Prior to its closure this summer, BNI had laid off 60 employees in its Kansas City office and about 300 in its facility in Mexico. Back in 2011, amid financial struggles for the firm, BNI received a $5.7 million cash injection from Advantage Capital Partners. At the time, the company said the capital would be used to fund its operations and growth initiatives. As recently as 2013, Barton Nelson was ranked as the 35th largest supplier in the industry by Counselor after reporting 2012 North American ad specialty sales of $39 million.

A deal with Gill was first made public last Friday afternoon following court approvals. Gill reported 2013 North American ad specialty sales of $44.1 million, a year-over-year decrease of 14.5%, as the company is normally impacted by non-election year revenue fall-off. Over the last five years, Gill has grown revenues by 11.4%.

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