alphabroder Acquires Prime Line

As first reported today in a Breaking News Alert, Pennsylvania-based alphabroder (asi/34063), the industry’s largest supplier by revenue, has added Top 40 firm Prime Line (asi/79530) to its portfolio of brands. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Going forward, the Prime Line brand will remain intact, and effectively become alphabroder’s new hard goods division. Prime Line CEO Jeff Lederer will serve as president of the division and will report to alphabroder CEO Norm Hullinger. Dan Pantano will retain his title as president of alphabroder.

“We’ve been enamored with Prime for a long time, and as Jeff and I talked about the future of our industry, we felt we could create a partnership that would benefit our companies and our customers,” Hullinger told Counselor. “We’re going to be blending our facilities and our management teams to deliver the very best product choice and service.”

Conversations between alphabroder and Prime Line began “in earnest” in March and April of 2017, according to Hullinger, who also said alphabroder considered acquiring other firms. “We looked at a few other companies, but never got far along,” Hullinger said. “We didn’t find the perfect fit until we found Prime Line.”

For Lederer, the deal offers “a true one-stop shop” for customers. “These are two brands that are well-known, have seasoned management teams and know what it takes to provide quality,” he said. “The industry is changing and it was important for me to make sure Prime Line is positioned in the best possible way moving into the future. We’ve chosen a partner in alphabroder that matches our values and commitment.”

According to Lederer, Prime Line’s 2017 sales are on pace to increase by at least 10% year-over-year. In 2016, Prime Line reported North American promotional product sales of $116 million. Hullinger, meanwhile, expects alphabroder’s sales this year to be up “just shy of double-digits.” In 2016, alphabroder reported industry sales of $1.14 billion.

Hullinger said alphabroder, which has private equity backing from Littlejohn & Co., has the available resources on hand to make more acquisitions. “We are well financed and we very much want to grow,” he said. Over the past five years, alphabroder has acquired Bodek and Rhodes, Ash City Worldwide and Imprints Wholesale.