Finding the Right Partner to Continue a Legacy Founded on Excellence

Capital Seaboard is a leading, independent provider of fresh produce, seafood, and dairy in the Mid-Atlantic region. With more than 2,000 products, the company’s extensive client list includes restaurants, national food chains, hotels and resorts, national grocers, and universities and school systems. As a key participant in wholesale and foodservice distribution for the past 60 years, Capital Seaboard has maintained exceptional safety standards and developed strong supplier relationships, which allow the company to deliver the highest quality produce and seafood at competitive prices regardless of the season.

The Situation

Referred by another client, Capital Seaboard’s shareholders engaged Ascend not only because of our expertise but for our commitment to singular attention and tailoring our processes to clients’ unique needs. As a family-owned business, the goal from the outset was to find the best partner to advance the legacy that Capital Seaboard built over 60+ years. We shepherded the shareholders through the entire lifecycle of the transaction:

  • Organizing and preparing the company for a sale, including a bottom-up financial model, detailed cross-sell and upsell analysis for each buyer, and KPI deep dive analysis along with positioning and marketing materials
  • Conducting outreach efforts by developing a bespoke universe of prospective buyers and facilitating communications with each group
  • Creating a competitive environment to maximize price and terms
  • Soliciting and negotiating letters of intent
  • Managing the due diligence process
  • Liaising with the buyer’s advisors to close the transaction
  • Business Services
Client Type
  • Shareholders
Services Provided
  • Sell-Side Transactions

The Strategy

The shareholders identified three key items as desirable in a partner for Capital Seaboard—#1 continuing the company’s legacy #2 ensuring employees were well taken care of and there was a culture fit #3 finding a partner that knew the space as well, if not better than they did. After considering Capital Seaboard’s strategic and market position along with the expectations of the shareholders, we narrowed our focus to buyers that could leverage the company’s cross-sell opportunities, profit per drop-off, brand new facility, and highly differentiated SQF certification. A limited, client-specific process.

The Execution

In the midst of the process, COVID-19 hit, significantly disrupting the restaurant industry and turning the food distribution space upside down. The process was put on hold, and the pause was used as an opportunity to shift focus towards navigating Capital Seaboard through several strategic and operational changes. The business thrived and became even more attractive to buyers interested in finding a target with quality products and uncompromised service throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. We received multiple LOIs from private equity firms and strategics looking to capitalize on what Capital Seaboard had to offer.

The Results

Despite the uncertainty within the industry and challenges of closing during a pandemic, we uncovered a premium buyer that checked every box while optimizing both valuation and structure. The Chefs’ Warehouse had a strong reputation for acquiring premier specialty companies, valuing their employees, and effectively integrating to offer their customers industry-leading products with unparalleled service. Their reputation proved to be deserved as The Chefs’ Warehouse continued with the Capital Seaboard team in place.

The Ascend Advantage

Capital Seaboard was an exceptional business that presented an outstanding opportunity within the Mid-Atlantic region, and we were able to bring several great offers to the table. But while the financial outcome was important, it was not the shareholders’ top priority. Our focus is our clients—achieving outcomes that align with their priorities and flexing for wherever the journey might lead.