Premium Spirits are Raised!
By Amber Lindsey
on January 31, 2014 at 9:17 AM
West Linn, Oregon, January 22, 2014: Hood River Distillers has returned to its roots and is distilling again with the just-announced acquisition of Portland-based Clear Creek Distillery. Clear Creek pioneered craft distilling with its traditional European style eaux de vie distilled entirely from Oregon fruits. And, according to the Whiskey Bible, Clear Creek offers the world’s best small batch whiskey, McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey. Hood River Distillers was the first licensed distillery in Oregon after prohibition. Its original product line included apple brandy distilled from fruit from the Hood River Valley, just like Clear Creek produces today.
“This is a perfect strategic match,” says Bill Nootenboom, J.D., who began brokering the deal while a partner with the Meriwether Group. “Clear Creek is the undisputed leader in craft distilling in the U.S., and produces many of the most highly respected spirits in the country. Hood River Distillers has an authentic Oregon heritage dating back to 1935, and has significant national distribution, including its highly successful Pendleton Whiskey.”
Nootenboom has his own transition and business merger to celebrate. He recently joined with Raymond G. Hanson in launching the Pragma Group LLC, a local business accelerator and merger & acquisition consultancy (PragmaGroupLLC.com). Hanson was most recently the president of PragmaVentures Inc., a 21-year-old business brokerage and consulting firm.
Hanson points out the new company will offer clients an expanded menu of offerings. “The Pragma Group will assemble the best in the field to provide brand building, business development, strategy, supply chain management, organizational development, talent management, mergers and acquisitions, raising capital and transitions consulting
“Pragma works with iconic northwest brands, to develop the long-term growth strategy to serve their missions,” asserts Nootenboom. “We help founders realize the dreams that started their businesses. We find and employ the cultural, operational, financial and human strengths to get businesses to the next level.”
Transitions not transactions is but one guiding principal of the Pragma Group. “Most people start a business for a reason,” Nootenboom notes. “We help them achieve their goals, whether that is building a business to pass to the next generation or creating a growth strategy to exploit a major market opportunity.”
The transition to new owners strengthened the culture of the company, improved relationships with its major supplier, provided financing for growth, and allowed a successful businessman to retire knowing his family’s legacy was safe in new hands.
Hood River Distillers was the first distillery in Oregon to open after prohibition. Their first products also came from the fruit of the Hood River Valley. HRD wanted to return to its roots – perfect fit.
Pragma Group developed multiple growth strategies, and tested each of them against the cultural and financial requirements of the business. Looking at every growth strategy known to restaurants, ultimately it was decided to split the company in two.
Pragma Group helped build a world-class marketing team, and spearheaded an effort to tell the brand story in a new way. We launched a campaign in Texas, where people are serious about their smoked meats.