This year's award goes to SmartSweets Inc., in recognition of its majority stake sale to TPG Growth. SmartSweets is a Vancouver-based-better-for-you candy brand that offers customers innovative alternatives to traditional candy products with 87-92% less sugar than traditional candy. Founded by Tara Bosch in her kitchen in 2016, SmartSweets' growth has been incredible, with revenue growing from approximately $15.6 million in 2018 to more than $50 million in 2019, and expected $100 million in 2020. Tara led SmartSweets through the transaction, along with board chair Judy Brooks.
The transaction attracted tremendous interest from a long list of domestic and international private equity and strategic acquirors. SmartSweets was represented by Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP with a team led by Ally Bharmal and Iain Mant. The transaction was executed largely during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding complexity to the negotiations, and was ultimately completed very swiftly following selection of the winning bidder. Financial advisor Piper Sandler also assisted the SmartSweets team.
The acquisition was a landmark transaction in the food and beverage industry, and has further cemented Vancouver and British Columbia as a breeding ground for innovative and successful companies in this area.
The 2020 Dealmaker of the Year is Carl Vanderspek. Carl started Trailer Wizards in 1963 with the purchase of a single trailer. He grew the business both organically and through over 25 acquisitions to a fleet of more than 24,000 trailers. The sale of Trailer Wizards in late December 2019 did not, however, represent the end of Carl's impact on British Columbia, as he has earmarked more than 90% of the proceeds from the sale to funding the 625 Powell Street Foundation he started.
The 625 Powell Street Foundation invests in real estate and has provided multiple not-for-profit entities a place to reside, free of charge, in the face of rising real estate costs in Vancouver. The Foundation's work includes assistance with the BC Center for Excellence's launch of Hope to Health Research and Innovation Centre in the DTES of Vancouver, providing accessible healthcare to patients with complex healthcare needs, including HIV. Through his gift to the Foundation, Carl will leverage his success in building a great BC middle market company into generational personal prosperity to those who will benefit from the Foundation's work.
Trail Wizards was assisted in its sale transaction by financial advisor Kellie Manchester at Sequeira Partners, and legal counsel Nathan Daniels at Mogan Daniels Slager LLP.
Clevest Solutions Inc. - ACG BC is also pleased to recognize Clevest Solutions Inc. and its founder Thomas Ligocki on a very successful exit transaction in its sale to IFS AB. Tom started Clevest approximately 16 years ago, and engineered a sale benefitting 150 shareholders. The Clevest team was guided by legal counsel at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP with a team led by Shahrooz Nabavi, and by financial advisor Fort Capital Partners with a team led by Mike Burtch.
Forewest Holdings Inc. - ACG BC also recognizes Forewest Holdings Inc. in its sale to Rx Drug Mart Inc. Forewest is also a long time growth story with CEO Don Fraser, and his father before him, completing over 30 pharmacy acquisitions since the early 80s. Forewest was assisted by legal counsel at Buckley Hogan Law Office with a team led by Steven Mangat and by Deloitte Corporate Finance Inc. with a team led by Jason Ding.