Thursday, December 7, 2023

The One-Two Punch Platform– November 2023 M&A Activity

Core Industrial Partners is back in the ring, re-entering the packaging market as a contender in the emerging roll-up of the folding carton business. In 2020, the Chicago-based private equity fund had acquired TCG Legacy, a commercial printing and packaging company in Raleigh, North Carolina. Intended as Core’s platform entry into the print and packaging business, TCG Legacy soon added-on MedLit Graphics, a packaging and labeling company based in Windsor, New Jersey. Rather than continue to build out the TCG Legacy platform, Core soon thereafter exited the investment, in 2022, selling the renamed MedLit Solutions to Resource Label Group.

At the opening bell of its return to folding carton business, Core Industrial announced its investment in Century Box, a folding carton manufacturer based in Methuen, Massachusetts. As is often the case with private equity deals, partnering with Core Industrial represents the first institutional equity investment for Century Box, a family-owned company. The second generation owners of Century Box stated that they had specifically sought out a financial partner with packaging industry experience and expertise to fund and expedite the company’s next phase of growth. Core Industrial fit the bill.

Century Box, which was founded in 1978, operates from two facilities that together are over 200,000 square feet dedicated to folding carton production. The company utilizes a large format offset press and two narrow web presses to produce folding cartons for private-label store-brand food and consumer products. A complement of large format die‑cutters and folder‑gluers enable complete in-house production capability. Automated windowing is a specialty of the company, which supports the company’s focus on supplying food product cartons.

In its announcement of the deal, Core Industrial Partners clearly articulated that Century Box was only the first round in its re‑entry to the packaging industry. Strategic initiatives and complementary acquisitions were planned. Less than a week later, the fund made good on its promise and announced round two, the acquisition of General Converting, a folding carton manufacturer in Bolingbrook, Illinois.

General Converting brings geographic and customer diversity to Core’s new platform company. Operating from a 122,000 square foot facility, the acquired company also serves the food industry, with added penetration into the confectionery segment. Additional markets served include pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and fragrance, as well as other consumer products. Printing is accomplished on sheetfed offset presses. Die-cutting and finishing are completed in‑house.

Core Industrial Partners is not alone. In the past two years, private equity has moved aggressively into the highly fragmented business of manufacturing folding cartons. As we noted a couple years ago, the market for folding carton manufacturing had begun to heat up. In recent months, the purchase of box printing companies outpaced the number of deals that involved label printing companies. That had not occurred before in our eleven‑plus years of tracking and commenting on M&A activity in the printing, packaging, and related industries. (See Label Roll-Ups are Red Hot; Are Folding Cartons Next? – March 2022). We expect that the keen interest from private equity firms in the folding carton business will continue unabated for the next several years. *

The Easy Pickings are Gone

The label business has been positively picked over. The most desirable fruit has been gathered. The owners of the diminishing number of label companies that remain independent are not ready to harvest the fruits of their labor. The valuations of desirable label printing companies, especially those with solid earnings and positive growth prospects, were sky-high relative to other segments in the printing and packaging industries. Many owners took advantage of the very favorable market conditions and sold out to one of the numerous PE-backed aggregators. As a result of the extensive consolidation, fewer highly desirable independent target label printing companies remain available for purchase.

Resource Label Group, now funded by its third PE backer, Ares Management, announced its 30th acquisition with the purchase of Coast Label in Fountain Valley, California. The acquired company produces specialized labels, such as durable industrial labels, sequential bar code labels, numbered machine identification labels, electrical system labels, inventory tracking stickers, traceability labels, and tamper evident labels. Notably, these are not the high-volume prime labels that characterized many of the earlier acquisitions completed by Resource Label Group. (See Private Equity Fuel$ Consolidation of Label Industry – September 2021).

Brook + Whittle, now funded by its third PE backer, Genstar Capital, announced the purchase of FlexoOne, a label printing company in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company specializes in small clear stickers and pressure sensitive labels that are used to indicate apparel sizes in retail environments. Other products include tamper evident labels, as well as some prime product labels. The acquisition of FlexoOne included the purchase of, an associated online sales channel. InStockLabels stocks over 4,000 label products that are sold via its website. The products include standard safety labels, color coding stickers, for-sale labels, as well as a complete range of clothing size stickers. Remarkably, the products are not the high-volume prime labels that distinguished the manufacturers that Brook + Whittle acquired in its initial roll-up deals.

Eschewing the lure of private equity funding, OMNI Systems prides itself as being the largest privately owned label converter in the US. Headquartered near Cleveland, Ohio, the company announced the acquisition of Honeywell’s Media Business. The acquired business provides barcode labels, media tags, thermal label stock, RFID labels, and patient wristbands. OMNI Systems specializes in direct thermal stock, anti-theft tags, and preprinted barcode labels. It is worth noting that prime labels, while offered, are not front and center in the company’s offerings.

Compared to the past several years, the number of deals announced in the label segment has declined markedly over the past year. Nonetheless, the PE‑backed label platforms continue to find some select, but potentially less juicy pickings.

* Graphic Arts Advisors, publisher of The Target Report, currently represents a private equity fund seeking to acquire manufacturers of high-value folding cartons.
2023 November - Mergers and Acquisitions in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Deal Party #1
(Surviving Entity)

Party #1 Address

Deal Party #2

Party #2 Address

Deal Structure

Minuteman Press, N. Conway
(Employee managers)
No Data North Conway, NH Minuteman Press, N. Conway No Data North Conway, NH 11/30/23 No Data Acquisition Printing & copying Link
Brook + Whittle
(Port co. Genstar Capital)
No Data Guilford, CT FlexoOne & InStock No Data Salt Lake City, UT 11/29/23 No Data Acquisition Label printing Link
(Port co. Emerald Lake Capital)
No Data Delaware, OH Albany Packaging No Data Markham, ON 11/29/23 No Data Acquisition Folding cartons Link
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
(Div. Hearst Communications)
No Data Norwalk, CT RJ Media Group
(Record-Journal + 7 titles)
No Data Meriden, CT 11/27/23 No Data Acquisition
(Dirks, Van Essen)
Regional newspaper Link
Star Group No Data Minneapolis, MN Exhibit Edge No Data Washington, DC 11/27/23 No Data Acquisition
(Generational Equity)
Trade show exhibits Link
(Port co. EagleTree Capital)
No Data Franklin Park, IL MacroArt No Data St Neots, UK 11/17/23 No Data Acquisition Wide & grand format printing Link
Resource Label Group
(Port co. Ares Management)
No Data Franklin, TN Coast Label No Data Fountain Valley, CA 11/16/23 No Data Acquisition Labels & flexible packaging Link
Unicorr No Data North Haven, CT TriState Container No Data Bensalem, PA 11/9/23 No Data Acquisition Corrugated boxes Link
Image360 No Data Kansas City, KS Wrap it Up No Data Kansas City, KS 11/8/23 No Data Acquisition Vehicle graphics Link
Core Industrial No Data Chicago, IL General Converting No Data Bolingbrook, IL 11/8/23 No Data Acquisition Folding cartons Link
Order My Gear No Data Dallas, TX DistributorCentral No Data Gardner, KS 11/7/23 No Data Acquisition Distributor software Link
Packaging Concepts ESOP No Data St. Louis, MO Packaging Concepts No Data St. Louis, MO 11/7/23 No Data Acquisition Bags & flexible packaging Link
Presidio Investors No Data Austin, TX Almaden No Data Santa Clara, CA 11/7/23 No Data Acquisition Commercial printing Link
OMNI Systems No Data Mayfield Village, OH Honeywell Media No Data Fairfield, OH 11/6/23 No Data Acquisition Label & tag printing Link
Graphic Packaging Group
(Affil. Data-Mail)
No Data Newington, CT Flexographic Print Solutions No Data Rochester, NH 11/6/23 No Data Acquisition Label printing Link
Target Print & Mail No Data Tallahassee, FL Bowman Promotional Specialties No Data Tallahassee, FL 11/2/23 No Data Acquisition Promotional distributor Link
Core Industrial No Data Chicago, IL Century Box No Data Methuen, MA 11/2/23 No Data Acquisition Folding cartons Link

2023 November - Bankruptcy Filings in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Filing Party


Case #

Filing Party Address


Region & City


Attorney for Debtor

Chapter 11 Filings:
No Chapter 11 Filings Found this Month --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Chapter 7 Filings:
Cadore Miller Printing, Inc 11/25/23 No Data 23-15794 Hickory Hills, IL 7th Northern IL
A. Benjamin Goldgar Eric G Zelazny Commercial printing
Amazing Printing Incorporated 11/17/23 No Data 23-61462 Woodstock, GA 11th Northern GA
Wendy L. Hagenau Danny Coleman Printing & copying
2023 November - Non-Bankruptcy Closures in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Closed Company / Facility

Date of Closure

Closing Address
Related Party Related Party
Date Closure Public


TC Transcontinental - Packaging facility Feb-23 No Data Tomah, WI TC Transcontinental Montreal, QC 11/17/23 Flexible packaging
(Formerly Coveris facility)
4 Color Press 1/9/23 No Data Fort Worth, TX None N/A Nov-23 Commercial printing Link
Duncan Press 12/12/23 No Data Canton, OH None N/A Nov-23 Commercial printing Link
Printpack Dec-23 No Data Hendersonville, NC Printpack Atlanta, GA 11/3/23 Flexible packaging Link