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December 2, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Announces Rebranding and New Corporate Name to Reflect Company’s Evolution and Growth

DALLAS – As it completes the year with strong and steady growth, Acuity Eyecare Group has set its sights on continuing its success in 2020, but with an updated name, brand identity and company logo. The firm, which operates leading eyecare groups across the U.S. and has backing by private equity group Riata Capital, is announcing today a new name, AEG Vision, along with other corporate updates. The company, based here, said the rebranding reflects its evolution and its commitment to full-scope medical optometry. The changes are effective today, and include a redesign of the company’s website, logo, graphics and communications, according to the announcement. The new website address is: www.AEGVision.com.

AEG Vision expects to close out 2019 with about 150 practice locations, chief executive officer Eric Anderson told VMAIL in an interview in late November. He said the firm will have made about 50 to 60 acquisitions before 2019 comes to a close. “It’s been a pretty incredible year,” Anderson said. “When the dust settles, we will be 50 or 60 practices bigger. I don’t know how many transactions that is, but it’s quite a few.”

Anderson said the company’s rebranding is consistent with an effort to strengthen the connection to its core purpose, vision and values. “The AEG Vision brand is a signal to our patients, doctors and associates that our organization is more than a group,” he added. “AEG Vision is a caring community of local providers, helping our neighbors take care of their vision, one patient at a time.”

Anderson added, “We have been Acuity Eyecare Group for a while, and that served us well, but we want to reflect a higher order of benefit. What we are really all about is helping people protect their vision, one patient at a time. So we wanted a name that reflected that.”

Ben Chudner, OD, the group’s chief medical officer, told VMAIL in an interview that he believes the move to the new AEG Vision name will be viewed favorably by ECPs within and outside the group. “The name change better reflects who we are in terms of optometric practices,” he said. “In general, the practices that we own don’t really have any obvious ties to Acuity Eyecare Group. And from a patient’s perspective, there’s not really any change at all. They don’t have any knowledge of our organization, which is intentional. We try to keep the DNA of the practices intact.”

Chudner oversees the firm’s ECP advisory council, which consists of about 10 practicing doctors representing the states where the firm has practices, and their reaction was very positive, he said.

AEG Vision’s “family” of eyecare practices includes Crown Vision Center (St. Louis and east Illinois), IEC International Eyecare Center (Illinois, Iowa and Missouri), Eyes on Missouri (mid-Missouri), Eyetique (western Pennsylvania and Ohio), Malbar (Nebraska), One Hour Optical (Colorado), 20/20 Image Eye Centers (Arizona), ABBA Eye Care (Colorado), EyeCare Specialties (southeast Nebraska), EyeTX Vision Centers (San Antonio, Texas), Hill Country Vision Centers (Texas), Memorial Eye Center (Houston), Insight Vision Center (Kansas) and EyeCare Consultants (Colorado).

AEG Vision’s most recent announced acquisitions came in November when the firm acquired Advanced Vision in Columbia, Mo., and EyeCare Consultants in Centennial, Colo., as VMAIL reported. The latter practice is the company’s 18th location in Colorado.

Joe Terzo, AEG Vision’s chief development officer, said that while the Acuity Eyecare Group name and story “has carried quite well” as the firm has done a “good job of developing a positive seller transition experience,” the time had come for taking a broader view of the firm’s objectives. Terzo, a former investment banker, has been with AEG Vision for about 14 months.

“We have developed what I think to be is a best-in-class, repeatable process that puts people first and delivers value for everyone involved and really enhances the patient experience and outcome,” Terzo said in an interview. “But as we look into the future and try to continue to accelerate our growth trajectory, I think the story is much broader than just ‘eyecare group.’ The word vision embodies both the vision of the team and our staff and the leadership group. It is a good alignment tool for all of us to deliver on our value proposition.”

Looking ahead, Anderson said he believes the pipeline of prospective acquisitions “is very full, so we feel good about that.” He added, “And more importantly the businesses that have been under [our] management and fully integrated continue to perform very well. We’re able to demonstrate the kind of value we can add by doing what we know how to do really well.”

Some of AEG Vision’s success is attributable to what Anderson calls a “nice balance” of incorporating a common platform, scale of 150 ECP offices, common POS systems and a single product supply chain. “At the same time, we’re still celebrating that DNA that made those [acquired] businesses work.” AEG Vision works to keep the business model of acquired practices the same as pre-acquisition, whether they are more of a medically oriented model or more of a boutique model, such as Eyetique in Pittsburgh.

AEG Vision has its own surfacing lab, a common POS/EHR technology platform, and an internal practice management package that provides an overview of data across all practices. These common technology platforms are integrated with acquisitions within about 90 days, Anderson said.

“We don’t homogenize [the practice],” Anderson said. “We push the boundaries of homogeneity balanced with the benefits of scale, and that formula is working really well for us.”

Anderson said he expects “more of the same” for AEG Vision in 2020. “I’ve got my senior leadership team in place and many of them are people I have worked with for 20 years. We’re a very tight group and we are very simpatico in terms of how we approach people and acquisitions. There are no silos, and we are operating pretty efficiently… I would expect us to do more of the same next year.”

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September 30, 2019

Texas Stakes

Less than a year after Rick Mina took the helm of WSS, the company made another shrewd move to cement its future growth: It took an investment from Riata Capital Group.

The Dallas-based private equity firm— which already had an impressive resume that included building and selling Lids, recapping Dollar Tree and taking Hibbett Sports public — had been looking to plow money into a company with a Hispanic-facing consumer concept, solid leadership and a strong business model.

“We liked that WSS had the No. 1 position in a Hispanic-focused niche, engagement with the consumers and the neighborhoods, a business model that had been curated for over 30 years and a platform that we were able to verify is strategic for the brands,” said Barron Fletcher, a managing partner at Riata.

While WSS hoped to benefit from a cash infusion, more important, it sought a partner with expertise in Texas real estate, a territory it plans to expand into even further.

“The move into Texas has been very strategic and pretty critical to establishing the company in a more balanced way geographically,” said Fletcher. “The preponderance of WSS stores are still in California— and that’s fine because California is an incredibly productive state — but diversifying the platform in terms of locations only makes it better. There is a lot of white space in Texas.”

Fletcher said he believes the specialty retailer, which plans to have more than 100 stores by the end of 2020,could one day evolve into a 250- to 300-door chain. As for Texas, WSS will operate 11 doors in the state by the end of the year, with the potential for 60 more.

“At that level, that would be $1 billion in sales,” Fletcher said.

The company is so ripe for growth that it even caught the attention of Jerry Jones Sr., the owner the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys franchise.

In March, the football organization poured money into the Riata fund that had invested in WSS, essentially creating a limited partnership.

So far, the alliance has paid off.

After several brick-and-mortar sporting-goods stores closed in California and Arizona, the NFL team needed new places to distribute its Cowboy-branded merchandise.

And for WSS, the California-based company gained access to proprietary product to sell to its Hispanic customers, who Fletcher said have an affinity for the Cowboys because the team has frequently played games in Mexico and has close ties with the country. WSS also benefits in another way: Team players often show up at store events and grand openings.

“Both sides of this are selling the same customer,” said Fletcher. “WSS can provide the Cowboys with distribution they can’t get anywhere else, and the Cowboys can help WSS on the marketing side.”

Three years after investing in the company,Fletcher likes what he sees so far: value and growth. Much of that success he attributes to Mina.

“His reputation and relationships with the brands have been very powerful for WSS,” said Fletcher. “We had access to the brands but we didn’t have the ability to get the kind of assortments and relationships that we do now.”

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September 10, 2019

Riata Promotes DePinto to Senior Associate

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced that it has promoted one of its investment professionals, Nick DePinto, to the position of Senior Associate. Nick had previously served as an Associate, and joined the firm in 2017.

Prior to joining Riata, Mr. DePinto was an Associate at J.P. Morgan, where he advised consumer products and retail clients on a variety of transactions including mergers and acquisitions, as well as debt and equity financings.

Nick DePinto
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September 6, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Continues Texas Growth With Acquisition of Eight Locations

DALLAS— Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) announced that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group (AEG), an owner and operator of leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices, has acquired an additional eight eyecare practice locations in Houston and the surrounding area. The terms of the deals were not disclosed.The practices involved in the various transactions include Memorial Eye Center, a three-location optical group that has served the West Houston community for more than 28 years with full-service, personalized eyecare and eyewear.

Over that time, Memorial Eye Center has become one of Houston’s largest independent optometric practices. The practice is known for utilizing state-of-the-art instruments and equipment. In addition, Acuity said it has acquired five other independently owned Houston-area practices in the communities of Katy (Dr. Ali Mostaghimi), Spring (two locations under Dr. Kris Patel and Dr. Hiral Mehta), Sugar Land (Dr. Thomas P. Arnold) and Houston (Dr. Robert Flanders).These five practice locations will now operate as Memorial Eye Centers, according to AEG, and Memorial Eye will have eight locations under its name. The independent locations offer a range of treatments, including the co-management of LASIK laser surgery, pediatric vision care and cataract and glaucoma management. The practices also offer orthokeratology and specialty contact lenses. AEG, founded in March 2017, currently operates more than 100 locations under different regional brands across 10 states.

The eight acquired practice locations join AEG’s growing network of Texas eye care groups, including EyeTx and Hill Country Vision Center, separate deals that were announced at the end of July.

​“We are very excited to have partnered with Acuity Eyecare Group,” Dr. Arnold, OD, FSLS, said in the announcement. “My colleagues and I have been very impressed with the professionalism of their entire team, their efficient approach to timely reviewing and closing this transaction, and their overall transparent approach and how they communicate.” Arnold, who has owned a Sugar Land practice for more than 27 years, added, “Most importantly, we share the same view of the profession, how best to support doctors, and how best to enhance the performance at a practice level.”

AEG chief executive officer Eric Anderson said the organization is honored that Arnold, Memorial Eye Center and several other prominent practices have chosen to partner with Acuity. “We are excited to have them join the growing AEG family,” he added. “And we are very enthusiastic about our progress in building significant presence in Texas.” Joe Terzo, AEG’s chief development officer, noted that AEG’s philosophy is to “maintain the DNA and culture of each practice we acquire while we enable them to leverage our resources to elevate their practice.” He added, “We’re committed to giving each of these practices the resources they need to further expand and grow.”

About Acuity Eyecare Group

Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”) is a rapidly growing community of wholly-owned optical practices that deliver full-scope optometry coupled with a well-run dispensary.The core purpose that unifies AEG’s doctors and associates is to “improve the health of our community by helping our neighbors see better and look their best, one patient at a time”. To achieve this, AEG strives to maintain the local DNA that has made each practice successful. At the same time, AEG enables each business to elevate its operation by leveraging our “Common Platform”. Founded in March 2017, AEG currently operates 100+ locations operating under different regional brands across 10 states. For more information, please visit www.acuityeyecaregroup.com.

About Riata Capital Group 

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Riata has closed over 25 acquisitions in the past twenty-four months, and over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 160 acquisitions representing over $4.6 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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July 31, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Enters Texas Market with Multiple Acquisitions

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) announced that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”), an owner and operator of leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices, has acquired 11 regional eyecare practices in Texas. These acquisitions are the first for AEG in the Texas market and include:

  • EyeTx Vision Centers: Founded in 1985, EyeTx Vision Centers operates six locations across San Antonio, TX. EyeTx optometrists are therapeutic and glaucoma certified. They specialize in routine eye care,contact lens and gas permeable fittings, bi-focal contact lens fitting, kerotoconus fittings and ortho-K fittings.
  • Hill Country Vision Center: A five location optical group, Hill Country was founded in 1975 in Kerrville, TX. Its other locations are Fredricksburg, Hondo, Floresville, and Bulverde. HCVC’s specialties include comprehensive exams, LASIK consultations, and urgent care, as well as the treatment and management of eye diseases.

“We are thrilled to welcome these exceptional groups into our family and to introduce AEG to the great state of Texas,” said Eric Anderson, CEO of Acuity Eyecare Group. “Generations of Texans have enjoyed better vision because of EyeTx and Hill Country. It is an honor to join these communities and we look forward to serving generations to come.”

 Jeff Fronterhouse, Managing Partner of Riata Capital Group, said: “We are excited to build on Acuity’s recent momentum, having completed seven acquisitions over the last two months. Texas is a promising market as we build Acuity Eyecare Group into a market-leading eyecare platform.”

About Acuity Eyecare Group

Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”) is a rapidly growing community of wholly-owned optical practices that deliver full-scope optometry coupled with a well-run dispensary. The core purpose that unifies AEG’s doctors and associates is to “improve the health of our community by helping our neighbors see better and look their best, one patient at a time”. To achieve this, AEG strives to maintain the local DNA that has made each practice successful. At the same time, AEG enables each business to elevate its operation by leveraging our “Common Platform”. Founded in March 2017, AEG currently operates 100+ locations operating under different regional brands across 10 states. For more information, please visit www.acuityeyecaregroup.com.

About Riata Capital Group 

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Riata has closed over 20 acquisitions in the past twenty-four months, and over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 155 acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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July 2, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Continues Strong Momentum with Acquisitions of Carlsson Family Eye Center and Pediatric & Adult Vision Care

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) announced that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group (“Acuity”), an owner and operator of leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices,has acquired two new regional eyecare practices, Carlsson Family Eye Center, a single location practice based in Gilbert, Arizona, located southeast of Phoenix, and Pediatric & Adult Vision Care, a single location practice based in Wexford, Pennsylvania, with a Vision Therapy office in Fox Chapel,both located near Pittsburgh. Acuity owns over 100 locations across 10 states,as well as a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab,located outside of St. Louis, Missouri. The Company expects to grow to over 150 locations by early 2020.

  • Carlsson Family Eye Care: Founded in 2006 by Dr. Chad Carlsson, OD, consists of one office in Gilbert, Arizona. Known for high quality family eye care from infants and children to adults and seniors,Carlsson Family Eye Center combines next-generation medical technology with extraordinary service to deliver a unique, personalized eyecare experience. They offer comprehensive eye exams, Ortho-K and scleral lens fittings, as well as a wonderful selection of quality eyewear and contacts.
  • Pediatric & Adult Vision Care: Founded in 1990 by Dr. Robert Prazer, OD, a Developmental Optometrist, operates a full service practice in Wexford, Pennsylvania, as well as a Vision Therapy office in Fox Chapel. Pediatric& Adult Vision Care combines extensive experience with extraordinary service to deliver a very comprehensive and customized eye care experience. Pediatric& Adult Vision Care is also known in the community for its annual event,Vision Care from the Heart, where complimentary eye exams and glasses are provided to those in need who do not have vision insurance.

Eric Anderson, CEO of Acuity Eyecare Group, said, “We are thrilled that Carlsson Family Eye Center and Pediatric & Adult Vision Care have joined our growing Acuity family. They are both a terrific fit with our AEG team as respected local eye care practices serving their communities. Carlsson Family Eye Center has an excellent reputation for providing superior patient care and a personalized eye care experience.” Mr.Anderson continued, “Pediatric & Adult Vision Care truly embodies the spirit of promoting better patient outcomes in our community through specialized treatments and personalized vision care for the whole family.”

“The additions of Carlsson Family Eye Center and Pediatric & Adult Vision Care build on our strong presence in the Phoenix and Pittsburgh markets, respectively, as they are very complementary to our recent acquisitions in both markets,” said Bret Davis, VP Corporate Development. “Our unique Acuity growth model enables us to continue strategic expansion in existing markets while also entering new markets. We look forward to sharing more news in the near future as our growth momentum continues with key acquisitions across the U.S.”

About Acuity Eyecare Group

Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”) is a rapidly growing community of wholly-owned optical practices that deliver full-scope optometry coupled with a well-run dispensary. The core purpose that unifies AEG’s doctors and associates is to “improve the health of our community by helping our neighbors see better and look their best, one patient at a time”. To achieve this, AEG strives to maintain the local DNA that has made each practice successful. At the same time, AEG enables each business to elevate its operation by leveraging our “Common Platform”. Founded in March 2017, AEG currently operates 100+ locations operating under different regional brands across 10 states. For more information, please visit www.acuityeyecaregroup.com.

About Riata Capital Group

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Riata has closed over 20 acquisitions in the past twenty-four months, and over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 153 acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information,please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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June 5, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Acquires Two Pittsburgh-Area and One Cleveland-Area Optometry Practice in Separate Transactions

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) said Tuesday that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group has acquired two separate Pittsburgh-area eyecare practices, Eyes on Regent Square (in Pittsburgh) and Clear Vision Family Eyecare, a single-location practice based in Mars, PA (north of Pittsburgh), and a Cleveland-area eyecare practice,Gale’s Vision Source, a single-location practice based in Solon, OH (east of Cleveland). The terms of the transactions were not disclosed. Acuity now owns and operates more than 100 eyecare and optometry locations across 10 states, according to Tuesday’s announcement. The firm also owns a large, full-service digital lab operation outside of St. Louis. Acuity said it expects to expand to more than 150 locations by early 2020.

  • Eyes on Regent Square: Founded in 1992, is well known for its state-of-the-art technology and highly personalized service. The practice offers comprehensive eye exams,specializing in ocular disease, ocular trauma care and preoperative consultations for refractive surgeries. Eyes on Regent Square and its founder,Dr. Maureen Weldon Kamons, OD, have received multiple awards and recognitions,including “Best of Pittsburgh” and “Optometrist of the Year.”
  • Clear Vision Family Eyecare: Founded in 2007 by Drs. Shannon Mihalacki, OD, and Rebecca Woodring, OD,has always focused on providing patients with an excellent eyecare experience combined with outstanding service. The practice provides comprehensive care in ocular health, including dry eye management, refractive surgery co-management,pediatric eyecare and disease management.
  • Gale’s Vision Source: Founded in 1973 in Solon, Ohio by Dr. David J. Gale, OD, Gale’s Vision Source is known in the Solon community as a leading provider of vision care products and customer service. The practice offers comprehensive eye exams and several cutting-edge vision care services,including pediatric eye health care, dry eye relief, eye disease treatment, and orthokeratology.

“Eyes on Regent Square and Clear Vision Family Eyecare are wonderful additions to our Acuity family,” Chief Executive Officer Eric Anderson said. “They are both highly regarded practices that align very well with Acuity’s core purpose and values with their commitment to excellence in patient care.” Anderson continued, “We are also very pleased with the acquisition of Gale’s Vision Source. They are a natural addition to the Acuity portfolio as their long-standing reputation for providing high quality, patient-focused services makes them a great fit with our team’s vision as caring eye care providers in our local communities.”

The addition of the Eyes on Regent Square and Clear Vision Family Eyecare practices also expands Acuity’s “strong foundation in the Pittsburgh market,” added Bret Davis, VP Corporate Development. “We continue to receive very positive interest from the industry based on our strategically differentiated business model,” he said.

About Acuity Eyecare Group

Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”) is a rapidly growing community of wholly-owned optical practices that deliver full-scope optometry coupled with a well-run dispensary. The core purpose that unifies AEG’s doctors and associates is to “improve the health of our community by helping our neighbors see better and look their best, one patient at a time”. To achieve this, AEG strives to maintain the local DNA that has made each practice successful. At the same time, AEG enables each business to elevate its operation by leveraging our “Common Platform”. Founded in March 2017, AEG currently operates 100+ locations operating under different regional brands across 10 states. For more information, please visit www.acuityeyecaregroup.com.

About Riata Capital Group 

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Riata has closed over 20 acquisitions in the past twenty-four months, and over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 151 acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information,please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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March 1, 2019

Riata Capital Group’s WSS Enters into Strategic Relationship with the Dallas Cowboys

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced that its portfolio company, WSS (“WSS” or the “Company”), a Los Angeles-based premier athletic specialty footwear and apparel retailer, has entered into a strategic relationship with the Dallas Cowboys. The relationship will bring together the Dallas Cowboys’ world-class brand with WSS and its core Hispanic and Latino customer base and provide for distribution of Dallas Cowboys’ merchandise across all WSS retail platforms.

WSS currently operates 80 athletic footwear and related apparel retail stores serving Hispanic and Latino neighborhoods in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas, and plans to open 50 to 75 additional stores in Texas over the next four to five years. WSS stores average approximately 11,000 square feet and offer a broad selection of top name brands including Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Vans, Converse, Puma, Reebok, and Fila, complemented by its own private label brands that provide additional value and selection for its customers. The Dallas Cowboys’ brand, the preeminent franchise in all of sports worldwide, is also the most popular in the NFL among Hispanic and Latino consumers across North America.

Commenting on this new relationship with the Cowboys, Mr. Alon said, “From the first time that I sat down with the passionate and visionary Jerry Jones, I was struck by his keen understanding and infectious excitement for our WSS concept.  The Cowboys have been NFL pioneers in building their brand worldwide and recognizing the importance of the Hispanic and Latino consumer to their franchise.  For me, as important as the business side of this, they share and actively participate in our mission of elevating our neighborhoods, one step at a time and of giving back to the communities we serve.”

WSS President and former President and CEO of both Footlocker and Champs Sports, Rick Mina, stated, “We could not be more excited about this strategic relationship with the Dallas Cowboys and the Jones family.  The blue star resonates with our customers in a very special way. The Cowboys and the Jones family operate at an elite level and bring resources way beyond capital that will help us continue to build our brand and execute the strategic growth of WSS.”

The strategic relationship between WSS and the Cowboys was orchestrated by Dallas-based Riata and comes on the heels of WSS successfully opening its first stores in Texas. “It has been a pleasure to help this alliance come together between two best-in-class organizations,” commented Barron Fletcher, co-managing partner of Riata.  “And we are excited about the future for WSS and the company’s continued strong growth and performance that will only be enhanced by this relationship with the Cowboys.”

Since closing its investment in WSS in October 2016, Riata has been actively investing, having completed 11 acquisitions, with several acquisitions pending. Riata is focused on investments in the business services, consumer, and healthcare services sectors. In addition to investing behind the theme of the continued secular growth and development of the Hispanic demographic with WSS, Riata is focused on themes of an aging population, increased eye pathology, and physician consolidation with Acuity Eyecare Group, and technology-enabled products and services with Extract Companies.

About Riata Capital Group

Riata Capital Group, LLC is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies in three core industry sectors – Business Services, Consumer, and Healthcare Services. Over the last 25 years, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 59 platform investments and 85 add-on acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value.  With extensive investment experience, a balanced team with both financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and deep experience in its three targeted sectors, Riata provides entrepreneurs and management teams the support they need to build exceptional middle market companies. (www.riatacapital.com)

About WSS

WSS is a premier footwear and apparel retailer in the U.S. doing business in inner-city, neighborhood-based stores. Consumers trust WSS for the best brands and largest selection of athletic, dress, fashion, work and casual footwear for the entire family. WSS’ large store format enables us to showcase thousands of styles from top name brands like Nike, Jordan, adidas, Vans, Converse, Puma, Reebok, Fila, Timberland, etc. In addition, WSS carries high quality private brands augmenting the breadth of selection to deliver amazing value to our customers.  Founded in Southern California in 1984 by entrepreneur Eric Alon, WSS has grown to 80 stores in the southwest.

WSS is committed to giving back to the communities they serve, partnering in over 350 local events each year. Stay connected to @shopWSS via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and at www.shopWSS.com.

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September 30, 2019

Texas Stakes

Less than a year after Rick Mina took the helm of WSS, the company made another shrewd move to cement its future growth: It took an investment from Riata Capital Group.

The Dallas-based private equity firm— which already had an impressive resume that included building and selling Lids, recapping Dollar Tree and taking Hibbett Sports public — had been looking to plow money into a company with a Hispanic-facing consumer concept, solid leadership and a strong business model.

“We liked that WSS had the No. 1 position in a Hispanic-focused niche, engagement with the consumers and the neighborhoods, a business model that had been curated for over 30 years and a platform that we were able to verify is strategic for the brands,” said Barron Fletcher, a managing partner at Riata.

While WSS hoped to benefit from a cash infusion, more important, it sought a partner with expertise in Texas real estate, a territory it plans to expand into even further.

“The move into Texas has been very strategic and pretty critical to establishing the company in a more balanced way geographically,” said Fletcher. “The preponderance of WSS stores are still in California— and that’s fine because California is an incredibly productive state — but diversifying the platform in terms of locations only makes it better. There is a lot of white space in Texas.”

Fletcher said he believes the specialty retailer, which plans to have more than 100 stores by the end of 2020,could one day evolve into a 250- to 300-door chain. As for Texas, WSS will operate 11 doors in the state by the end of the year, with the potential for 60 more.

“At that level, that would be $1 billion in sales,” Fletcher said.

The company is so ripe for growth that it even caught the attention of Jerry Jones Sr., the owner the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys franchise.

In March, the football organization poured money into the Riata fund that had invested in WSS, essentially creating a limited partnership.

So far, the alliance has paid off.

After several brick-and-mortar sporting-goods stores closed in California and Arizona, the NFL team needed new places to distribute its Cowboy-branded merchandise.

And for WSS, the California-based company gained access to proprietary product to sell to its Hispanic customers, who Fletcher said have an affinity for the Cowboys because the team has frequently played games in Mexico and has close ties with the country. WSS also benefits in another way: Team players often show up at store events and grand openings.

“Both sides of this are selling the same customer,” said Fletcher. “WSS can provide the Cowboys with distribution they can’t get anywhere else, and the Cowboys can help WSS on the marketing side.”

Three years after investing in the company,Fletcher likes what he sees so far: value and growth. Much of that success he attributes to Mina.

“His reputation and relationships with the brands have been very powerful for WSS,” said Fletcher. “We had access to the brands but we didn’t have the ability to get the kind of assortments and relationships that we do now.”

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September 10, 2019

Riata Promotes DePinto to Senior Associate

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced that it has promoted one of its investment professionals, Nick DePinto, to the position of Senior Associate. Nick had previously served as an Associate, and joined the firm in 2017.

Prior to joining Riata, Mr. DePinto was an Associate at J.P. Morgan, where he advised consumer products and retail clients on a variety of transactions including mergers and acquisitions, as well as debt and equity financings.

Nick DePinto
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September 6, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Continues Texas Growth With Acquisition of Eight Locations

DALLAS— Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) announced that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group (AEG), an owner and operator of leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices, has acquired an additional eight eyecare practice locations in Houston and the surrounding area. The terms of the deals were not disclosed.The practices involved in the various transactions include Memorial Eye Center, a three-location optical group that has served the West Houston community for more than 28 years with full-service, personalized eyecare and eyewear.

Over that time, Memorial Eye Center has become one of Houston’s largest independent optometric practices. The practice is known for utilizing state-of-the-art instruments and equipment. In addition, Acuity said it has acquired five other independently owned Houston-area practices in the communities of Katy (Dr. Ali Mostaghimi), Spring (two locations under Dr. Kris Patel and Dr. Hiral Mehta), Sugar Land (Dr. Thomas P. Arnold) and Houston (Dr. Robert Flanders).These five practice locations will now operate as Memorial Eye Centers, according to AEG, and Memorial Eye will have eight locations under its name. The independent locations offer a range of treatments, including the co-management of LASIK laser surgery, pediatric vision care and cataract and glaucoma management. The practices also offer orthokeratology and specialty contact lenses. AEG, founded in March 2017, currently operates more than 100 locations under different regional brands across 10 states.

The eight acquired practice locations join AEG’s growing network of Texas eye care groups, including EyeTx and Hill Country Vision Center, separate deals that were announced at the end of July.

​“We are very excited to have partnered with Acuity Eyecare Group,” Dr. Arnold, OD, FSLS, said in the announcement. “My colleagues and I have been very impressed with the professionalism of their entire team, their efficient approach to timely reviewing and closing this transaction, and their overall transparent approach and how they communicate.” Arnold, who has owned a Sugar Land practice for more than 27 years, added, “Most importantly, we share the same view of the profession, how best to support doctors, and how best to enhance the performance at a practice level.”

AEG chief executive officer Eric Anderson said the organization is honored that Arnold, Memorial Eye Center and several other prominent practices have chosen to partner with Acuity. “We are excited to have them join the growing AEG family,” he added. “And we are very enthusiastic about our progress in building significant presence in Texas.” Joe Terzo, AEG’s chief development officer, noted that AEG’s philosophy is to “maintain the DNA and culture of each practice we acquire while we enable them to leverage our resources to elevate their practice.” He added, “We’re committed to giving each of these practices the resources they need to further expand and grow.”

About Acuity Eyecare Group

Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”) is a rapidly growing community of wholly-owned optical practices that deliver full-scope optometry coupled with a well-run dispensary.The core purpose that unifies AEG’s doctors and associates is to “improve the health of our community by helping our neighbors see better and look their best, one patient at a time”. To achieve this, AEG strives to maintain the local DNA that has made each practice successful. At the same time, AEG enables each business to elevate its operation by leveraging our “Common Platform”. Founded in March 2017, AEG currently operates 100+ locations operating under different regional brands across 10 states. For more information, please visit www.acuityeyecaregroup.com.

About Riata Capital Group 

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Riata has closed over 25 acquisitions in the past twenty-four months, and over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 160 acquisitions representing over $4.6 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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July 31, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Enters Texas Market with Multiple Acquisitions

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) announced that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”), an owner and operator of leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices, has acquired 11 regional eyecare practices in Texas. These acquisitions are the first for AEG in the Texas market and include:

  • EyeTx Vision Centers: Founded in 1985, EyeTx Vision Centers operates six locations across San Antonio, TX. EyeTx optometrists are therapeutic and glaucoma certified. They specialize in routine eye care,contact lens and gas permeable fittings, bi-focal contact lens fitting, kerotoconus fittings and ortho-K fittings.
  • Hill Country Vision Center: A five location optical group, Hill Country was founded in 1975 in Kerrville, TX. Its other locations are Fredricksburg, Hondo, Floresville, and Bulverde. HCVC’s specialties include comprehensive exams, LASIK consultations, and urgent care, as well as the treatment and management of eye diseases.

“We are thrilled to welcome these exceptional groups into our family and to introduce AEG to the great state of Texas,” said Eric Anderson, CEO of Acuity Eyecare Group. “Generations of Texans have enjoyed better vision because of EyeTx and Hill Country. It is an honor to join these communities and we look forward to serving generations to come.”

 Jeff Fronterhouse, Managing Partner of Riata Capital Group, said: “We are excited to build on Acuity’s recent momentum, having completed seven acquisitions over the last two months. Texas is a promising market as we build Acuity Eyecare Group into a market-leading eyecare platform.”

About Acuity Eyecare Group

Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”) is a rapidly growing community of wholly-owned optical practices that deliver full-scope optometry coupled with a well-run dispensary. The core purpose that unifies AEG’s doctors and associates is to “improve the health of our community by helping our neighbors see better and look their best, one patient at a time”. To achieve this, AEG strives to maintain the local DNA that has made each practice successful. At the same time, AEG enables each business to elevate its operation by leveraging our “Common Platform”. Founded in March 2017, AEG currently operates 100+ locations operating under different regional brands across 10 states. For more information, please visit www.acuityeyecaregroup.com.

About Riata Capital Group 

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Riata has closed over 20 acquisitions in the past twenty-four months, and over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 155 acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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July 2, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Continues Strong Momentum with Acquisitions of Carlsson Family Eye Center and Pediatric & Adult Vision Care

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) announced that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group (“Acuity”), an owner and operator of leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices,has acquired two new regional eyecare practices, Carlsson Family Eye Center, a single location practice based in Gilbert, Arizona, located southeast of Phoenix, and Pediatric & Adult Vision Care, a single location practice based in Wexford, Pennsylvania, with a Vision Therapy office in Fox Chapel,both located near Pittsburgh. Acuity owns over 100 locations across 10 states,as well as a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab,located outside of St. Louis, Missouri. The Company expects to grow to over 150 locations by early 2020.

  • Carlsson Family Eye Care: Founded in 2006 by Dr. Chad Carlsson, OD, consists of one office in Gilbert, Arizona. Known for high quality family eye care from infants and children to adults and seniors,Carlsson Family Eye Center combines next-generation medical technology with extraordinary service to deliver a unique, personalized eyecare experience. They offer comprehensive eye exams, Ortho-K and scleral lens fittings, as well as a wonderful selection of quality eyewear and contacts.
  • Pediatric & Adult Vision Care: Founded in 1990 by Dr. Robert Prazer, OD, a Developmental Optometrist, operates a full service practice in Wexford, Pennsylvania, as well as a Vision Therapy office in Fox Chapel. Pediatric& Adult Vision Care combines extensive experience with extraordinary service to deliver a very comprehensive and customized eye care experience. Pediatric& Adult Vision Care is also known in the community for its annual event,Vision Care from the Heart, where complimentary eye exams and glasses are provided to those in need who do not have vision insurance.

Eric Anderson, CEO of Acuity Eyecare Group, said, “We are thrilled that Carlsson Family Eye Center and Pediatric & Adult Vision Care have joined our growing Acuity family. They are both a terrific fit with our AEG team as respected local eye care practices serving their communities. Carlsson Family Eye Center has an excellent reputation for providing superior patient care and a personalized eye care experience.” Mr.Anderson continued, “Pediatric & Adult Vision Care truly embodies the spirit of promoting better patient outcomes in our community through specialized treatments and personalized vision care for the whole family.”

“The additions of Carlsson Family Eye Center and Pediatric & Adult Vision Care build on our strong presence in the Phoenix and Pittsburgh markets, respectively, as they are very complementary to our recent acquisitions in both markets,” said Bret Davis, VP Corporate Development. “Our unique Acuity growth model enables us to continue strategic expansion in existing markets while also entering new markets. We look forward to sharing more news in the near future as our growth momentum continues with key acquisitions across the U.S.”

About Acuity Eyecare Group

Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”) is a rapidly growing community of wholly-owned optical practices that deliver full-scope optometry coupled with a well-run dispensary. The core purpose that unifies AEG’s doctors and associates is to “improve the health of our community by helping our neighbors see better and look their best, one patient at a time”. To achieve this, AEG strives to maintain the local DNA that has made each practice successful. At the same time, AEG enables each business to elevate its operation by leveraging our “Common Platform”. Founded in March 2017, AEG currently operates 100+ locations operating under different regional brands across 10 states. For more information, please visit www.acuityeyecaregroup.com.

About Riata Capital Group

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Riata has closed over 20 acquisitions in the past twenty-four months, and over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 153 acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information,please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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June 5, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Acquires Two Pittsburgh-Area and One Cleveland-Area Optometry Practice in Separate Transactions

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) said Tuesday that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group has acquired two separate Pittsburgh-area eyecare practices, Eyes on Regent Square (in Pittsburgh) and Clear Vision Family Eyecare, a single-location practice based in Mars, PA (north of Pittsburgh), and a Cleveland-area eyecare practice,Gale’s Vision Source, a single-location practice based in Solon, OH (east of Cleveland). The terms of the transactions were not disclosed. Acuity now owns and operates more than 100 eyecare and optometry locations across 10 states, according to Tuesday’s announcement. The firm also owns a large, full-service digital lab operation outside of St. Louis. Acuity said it expects to expand to more than 150 locations by early 2020.

  • Eyes on Regent Square: Founded in 1992, is well known for its state-of-the-art technology and highly personalized service. The practice offers comprehensive eye exams,specializing in ocular disease, ocular trauma care and preoperative consultations for refractive surgeries. Eyes on Regent Square and its founder,Dr. Maureen Weldon Kamons, OD, have received multiple awards and recognitions,including “Best of Pittsburgh” and “Optometrist of the Year.”
  • Clear Vision Family Eyecare: Founded in 2007 by Drs. Shannon Mihalacki, OD, and Rebecca Woodring, OD,has always focused on providing patients with an excellent eyecare experience combined with outstanding service. The practice provides comprehensive care in ocular health, including dry eye management, refractive surgery co-management,pediatric eyecare and disease management.
  • Gale’s Vision Source: Founded in 1973 in Solon, Ohio by Dr. David J. Gale, OD, Gale’s Vision Source is known in the Solon community as a leading provider of vision care products and customer service. The practice offers comprehensive eye exams and several cutting-edge vision care services,including pediatric eye health care, dry eye relief, eye disease treatment, and orthokeratology.

“Eyes on Regent Square and Clear Vision Family Eyecare are wonderful additions to our Acuity family,” Chief Executive Officer Eric Anderson said. “They are both highly regarded practices that align very well with Acuity’s core purpose and values with their commitment to excellence in patient care.” Anderson continued, “We are also very pleased with the acquisition of Gale’s Vision Source. They are a natural addition to the Acuity portfolio as their long-standing reputation for providing high quality, patient-focused services makes them a great fit with our team’s vision as caring eye care providers in our local communities.”

The addition of the Eyes on Regent Square and Clear Vision Family Eyecare practices also expands Acuity’s “strong foundation in the Pittsburgh market,” added Bret Davis, VP Corporate Development. “We continue to receive very positive interest from the industry based on our strategically differentiated business model,” he said.

About Acuity Eyecare Group

Acuity Eyecare Group (“AEG”) is a rapidly growing community of wholly-owned optical practices that deliver full-scope optometry coupled with a well-run dispensary. The core purpose that unifies AEG’s doctors and associates is to “improve the health of our community by helping our neighbors see better and look their best, one patient at a time”. To achieve this, AEG strives to maintain the local DNA that has made each practice successful. At the same time, AEG enables each business to elevate its operation by leveraging our “Common Platform”. Founded in March 2017, AEG currently operates 100+ locations operating under different regional brands across 10 states. For more information, please visit www.acuityeyecaregroup.com.

About Riata Capital Group 

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Riata has closed over 20 acquisitions in the past twenty-four months, and over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 151 acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information,please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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March 1, 2019

Riata Capital Group’s WSS Enters into Strategic Relationship with the Dallas Cowboys

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced that its portfolio company, WSS (“WSS” or the “Company”), a Los Angeles-based premier athletic specialty footwear and apparel retailer, has entered into a strategic relationship with the Dallas Cowboys. The relationship will bring together the Dallas Cowboys’ world-class brand with WSS and its core Hispanic and Latino customer base and provide for distribution of Dallas Cowboys’ merchandise across all WSS retail platforms.

WSS currently operates 80 athletic footwear and related apparel retail stores serving Hispanic and Latino neighborhoods in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas, and plans to open 50 to 75 additional stores in Texas over the next four to five years. WSS stores average approximately 11,000 square feet and offer a broad selection of top name brands including Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Vans, Converse, Puma, Reebok, and Fila, complemented by its own private label brands that provide additional value and selection for its customers. The Dallas Cowboys’ brand, the preeminent franchise in all of sports worldwide, is also the most popular in the NFL among Hispanic and Latino consumers across North America.

Commenting on this new relationship with the Cowboys, Mr. Alon said, “From the first time that I sat down with the passionate and visionary Jerry Jones, I was struck by his keen understanding and infectious excitement for our WSS concept.  The Cowboys have been NFL pioneers in building their brand worldwide and recognizing the importance of the Hispanic and Latino consumer to their franchise.  For me, as important as the business side of this, they share and actively participate in our mission of elevating our neighborhoods, one step at a time and of giving back to the communities we serve.”

WSS President and former President and CEO of both Footlocker and Champs Sports, Rick Mina, stated, “We could not be more excited about this strategic relationship with the Dallas Cowboys and the Jones family.  The blue star resonates with our customers in a very special way. The Cowboys and the Jones family operate at an elite level and bring resources way beyond capital that will help us continue to build our brand and execute the strategic growth of WSS.”

The strategic relationship between WSS and the Cowboys was orchestrated by Dallas-based Riata and comes on the heels of WSS successfully opening its first stores in Texas. “It has been a pleasure to help this alliance come together between two best-in-class organizations,” commented Barron Fletcher, co-managing partner of Riata.  “And we are excited about the future for WSS and the company’s continued strong growth and performance that will only be enhanced by this relationship with the Cowboys.”

Since closing its investment in WSS in October 2016, Riata has been actively investing, having completed 11 acquisitions, with several acquisitions pending. Riata is focused on investments in the business services, consumer, and healthcare services sectors. In addition to investing behind the theme of the continued secular growth and development of the Hispanic demographic with WSS, Riata is focused on themes of an aging population, increased eye pathology, and physician consolidation with Acuity Eyecare Group, and technology-enabled products and services with Extract Companies.

About Riata Capital Group

Riata Capital Group, LLC is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies in three core industry sectors – Business Services, Consumer, and Healthcare Services. Over the last 25 years, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 59 platform investments and 85 add-on acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value.  With extensive investment experience, a balanced team with both financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and deep experience in its three targeted sectors, Riata provides entrepreneurs and management teams the support they need to build exceptional middle market companies. (www.riatacapital.com)

About WSS

WSS is a premier footwear and apparel retailer in the U.S. doing business in inner-city, neighborhood-based stores. Consumers trust WSS for the best brands and largest selection of athletic, dress, fashion, work and casual footwear for the entire family. WSS’ large store format enables us to showcase thousands of styles from top name brands like Nike, Jordan, adidas, Vans, Converse, Puma, Reebok, Fila, Timberland, etc. In addition, WSS carries high quality private brands augmenting the breadth of selection to deliver amazing value to our customers.  Founded in Southern California in 1984 by entrepreneur Eric Alon, WSS has grown to 80 stores in the southwest.

WSS is committed to giving back to the communities they serve, partnering in over 350 local events each year. Stay connected to @shopWSS via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and at www.shopWSS.com.

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January 18, 2019

Riata Capital Group Promotes Two to Vice President

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced that it has promoted two of its investment professionals, David Parker and Mitchell Wyly, to the position of Vice President. Both had previously served as Senior Associate, and joined the firm at its inception in 2015. Prior to joining Riata, Mr. Parker was an analyst with Citigroup and Mr. Wyly was an associate with Trailblazer Capital.

David F. Parker, Jr.
Mitchell Wyly
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January 9, 2019

Acuity Eyecare Group Completes Significant Acquisitions in Colorado and Nebraska — Receives Investment from J.P. Morgan Asset Management

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group (“Acuity”), an owner and operator of leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices, has acquired two new regional eyecare groups, totaling 18 locations:

  • ABBA Eye Care, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which operates 13 full-service optometry locations in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Alamosa, Aurora, Fountain, Gunnison, La Junta, Lamar, and Pagosa Springs.
  • EyeCare Specialties, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, which operates 5 full-service optometry locations in Lincoln, Beatrice, and Fremont.

Riata also announced that funds and accounts advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management (“J.P. Morgan”) have made a substantial equity investment in Acuity to support the company’s continued growth and expansion. The investment from J.P. Morgan positions Riata to achieve its stated plan of building Acuity to 200-300 locations over a three-to-five-year period through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent optometry practices.

Acuity now owns nearly 90 locations across 8 states under 10 different local brands, as well as a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, located outside of St. Louis, Missouri. The Company expects to exceed 100 locations by early 2019 based on other eyecare groups under letter of intent and its pipeline of prospects.

Eric Anderson, CEO of Acuity Eyecare Group, said: “We are very excited and privileged to add ABBA Eye Care and EyeCare Specialties to our growing Acuity family. Both brands share our values and core purpose as a caring community of local eye care providers. These practices are a great fit for Acuity given their focus on patient care and full-scope optometry. We are very pleased to have received such positive response in the marketplace, as eyecare groups and their providers are enthusiastic about partnering with Acuity.”

Jeff Fronterhouse, Managing Partner of Riata Capital Group, said: “We are excited to have J.P. Morgan Asset Management join us as an equity partner as we continue to build Acuity Eyecare Group into a market-leading eyecare platform. And the addition of ABBA Eye Care and EyeCare Specialties, two medically-oriented optometry groups, is a terrific way to finish out a strong 2018 for Acuity Eyecare Group. We look forward to continued growth and expansion in 2019.”

Riata has been very active since late 2016, having closed 11 acquisitions in the business services, consumer, and healthcare services sectors, with several additional transactions in its pipeline.

About ABBA Eye Care

Founded in 1978 by Dr. Marcus J. Meyer, O.D., ABBA Eye Care has grown from one office in Colorado Springs to 13 locations in Colorado. ABBA Eye Care’s practices include 4 locations in Colorado Springs, 2 in Pueblo, and 1 in Alamosa, Aurora, Fountain, Gunnison, La Junta, Lamar, and Pagosa Springs. ABBA Eye Care is known for high-quality products, personalized service and advanced optical technology. Services include comprehensive eye exams, dry eye treatment using the LipiFlow® procedure, in-depth examinations of ocular structures and eye diseases, and Lasik consultations with pre-and post-operative laser vision care. ABBA Eye Care also offers a broad assortment of fashionable prescription and non-prescription eye glasses, sunglasses as well as High Definition lens options and contact lenses. For more information, please visit www.abbaeyecare.com.

About EyeCare Specialties

Founded over 20 years ago by optometrists Jim Devine, Brian Hinkley, and James Kirchner, EyeCare Specialties is a southeast Nebraska-based eyecare group with 5 full-service eyecare centers and 1 vision therapy clinic. EyeCare Specialties practices include 3 locations in Lincoln, 1 in Beatrice, and 1 in Fremont, along with a vision therapy clinic in Lincoln. EyeCare Specialties is known for providing state-of-the-art optometric care and the best lifestyle choices in eyewear. Services include comprehensive eye health exams using the most technologically advanced instruments, vision therapy to address a variety of vision disorders, and dry eye treatment using the LipiFlow® procedure. EyeCare Specialties also offers an extensive line of fashionable eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. For more information, please visit www.eyecarespecialties.com.

About Riata Capital Group

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 59 platform investments and 87 add-on acquisitions, representing over $4 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm’s core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit www.riatacapital.com.

About J.P. Morgan Asset Management

J.P. Morgan Asset Management, with assets under management of $1.8 trillion (as of September 30, 2018), is a global leader in investment management. J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s clients include institutions, retail investors and high net worth individuals in every major market throughout the world. J.P. Morgan Asset Management offers global investment management in equities, fixed income, real estate, hedge funds, private equity and liquidity. J.P. Morgan Asset Management is the marketing name for the asset management businesses of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), and its affiliates worldwide.

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August, 8 2018

In Urban Markets, This Shoe Retailer Has Legs Expanding One Step at a Time

Retail chains don’t exactly line up to open new stores in a city like Lynwood, were residents are mostly Latino and African American and their income and education lag behind the Los Angeles County average.

But for WSS, a fast-growing Los Angeles company, Lynwood’s challenges were seen as opportunity. The chain, formerly known as Warehouse Shoe Sale, operates in the city of about 70,000 people and in other predominantly minority and urban communities, a business plan that is rare in the retail industry.

“We also hire from the local communities, and that has really been a key ingredient to the success of the business,” said Rick Mina, WSS president and a veteran executive of major national athletic shoe and sports equipment brands.

WSS is also noteworthy in the way that it is outpacing an industry that is expecting slow but steady expansion over the next several years.

WSS took the 59th spot among the world’s specialty sports products retailers, with 2016 revenue of $260 million, according to the most recent ranking by Sporting Goods Intelligence, an industry newsletter. In 2012, WSS weighed in at No. 170 with $170 million in revenue. (A WSS representative declined to provide revenue figures.)

“They have focused a lot of effective attention on the Latino market,” said John Horan, Sporting Goods Intelligence publisher. “They are serving a very fast-growing demographic and that puts WSS in a very good position.”

It all kicked off in 1977 when entrepreneur Eric Alon began selling shoes at swap meets out of a battered van.

The first brick-and-mortar Warehouse Shoe Sale opened in 1984, and the company now operates 82 stores, with 30 of them opening in the last five years.

Alon, who is still chief executive and majority owner, “built the company through hard work and sweat, and he had a very, very close relationship with his team,” Mina said. “To this day, we operate pretty much the same way.”

The stores sit on urban streets far from malls and sport an airy, warehouse-like feel, with boxes of shoes stacked on utilitarian shelves.

Potential buyers are greeted when they enter, but workers are encouraged to give customers broad latitude to simply browse.

If customers “want to just wander the store and look at whatever they want and try shoes on, they’re also welcome to do that,” said Mina, 61, who previously worked as president and chief executive of Champs Sports and in the same role at Foot Locker. “That’s been the philosophy in this business from Day 1. We don’t hassle the customer.”

Just getting customers at all was a problem during the last recession, when the already limited buying power in many working-class neighborhoods suffered. After profits fell for three straight years, the company consulted a branding expert, Topanga-based How Creative.

After How Creative prescribed shrinking the name to WSS, a website redesign, a new logo and a refreshed look for the stores, sales and profit growth took off, said Howard Lim, founder and president of How Creative.

“They have done outrageously well,” Lim said. “They have achieved much better relationships with their suppliers and their customers.”

Part of that, WSS executives said, stems from the crowded calendar of community events — about 350 in the last 12 months across the chain, most recently hosting World Cup soccer viewing parties.

In 2016, WSS picked up a minority investor to achieve even more.

Dallas-based Riata Capital Group, which has helped seed other sports retailers such as Moosejaw, paid an undisclosed amount for a minority stake in WSS with an eye toward helping the company expand.

There are 10 store openings in the works, with one in Rialto slated for the next few months.

The firm has slowly begun to expand outside California, opening its first stores recently in Houston and El Paso, for example.

Many retail chains are attracted to urban neighborhoods only after they have begun to gentrify, attracting an influx of relatively affluent residents, said Rachel Meltzer, associate professor of urban policy at the New School in New York.

“My intuition is that the businesses and entrepreneurs that do go into these communities probably have information that other retailers don’t,” such as knowledge that residents are hungry for good nearby retail options, Meltzer said.

“For businesses sitting far away from these neighborhoods, there can be a real information gap about understanding what the demand could be,” Meltzer said.

Once promises have been made, however, follow-through is important.

“It’s not just about showing up and having a storefront,” Meltzer said. “There have been chains that have been hurt by maybe one bad experience and then the next neighborhood doesn’t necessarily want to welcome them in.”

Lynwood officials were watching when WSS opened a store there in 2017. They say they have been pleasantly surprised.

“WSS has lived up to the promises it made when it opened in Lynwood — hiring local people, especially some of our young people, and supporting city and civic events,” Mayor José Luis Solache said. “They have been a good neighbor and we wish more companies would follow their model.”

Lynwood residents make up more than half of that store’s employees.

For Paula Santillan, 30, the Lynwood store “has been a career for me.”

“As soon as I finished high school, I started working for WSS. I started off as a sales associate, just selling shoes,” said Santillan, who has risen up the store’s ranks to manager over her 12 years with the company.

“The company has a mission statement, ‘We elevate the neighborhood one step at a time,’ and it has done that for me,” Santillan said.

Another Lynwood resident, 20-year-old Kevin Estrada, liked shopping at WSS so much that he decided to get a job there selling shoes.

“They always had the brands I liked. They had the K-Swiss, they had the Nikes, they had the Adidas, so I always wanted to come to WSS,” said Estrada, who is also studying kinesiology at El Camino Community College.

Estrada said being able to have a job near his home has helped him maintain a difficult schedule of working and pursuing a degree.

“If WSS hadn’t hired me, I’m not sure I could do it,” he said.

In terms of selection, the current generation of hard-core shoe aficionados won’t be impressed with much of WSS’ inventory, but that isn’t the chain’s target audience.

With a price range between $25 and $250, Mina said, customers know “that a family of four can come in here and buy shoes for the whole family for $150.”

The stores stock major brands including Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Vans, Converse, Reebok, Puma and, most recently, Fila.

Within a month of the Lynwood store opening, it expanded to accommodate a new soccer apparel section.

“We’re always looking for opportunities that we believe are culturally important to our consumer,” Mina said. “Soccer is the sport. Although they do play basketball and we do have consumers in that arena, almost all of our customers enjoy soccer.”

Roderick Aiken, 42, vice president of marketing for WSS, said that customers occasionally have access to the same limited-run, special-edition shoes that are also available in high-end national chain stores.

“Some are collector’s items. One of those was last year for Latino Heritage Month,” Aiken said, referring to well-known Mexican street artist Saner’s take on the Nike Air Force 1. “It was covered in faux jaguar hair and we ran out of them very quickly.”

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May 2, 2018

Riata Capital Group Closes Investment in Extract Production Holdings

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced it has closed on its strategic partnership withExtract Production Holdings , LLC (“Extract”or the “Company”), a fully-integrated provider of artificial lift systems and related parts and services to North American energy producers, to support the Company’s organic and acquisition-driven growth initiatives.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Extract provides comprehensive artificial lift solutions and related surface pressure applications for its customers and is currently focused on both electric submersible pump (ESP) solutions and related horizontal pump (H-Pump) systems, parts and services under the Extract Production Services and Hoss Pump Systems brands.  Operating primarily in the Mid-Continent and Permian Basins, Extract plans to increase its presence considerably in both regions as well as add adjacent forms of artificial lift systems and services to fulfill its costumers’ requirements across a wider spectrum of producing environments.

Regarding Riata’s investment, Brad Goebel, CEO of Extract, said, “Having worked with and enjoyed considerable success with Riata’s principals in our previous artificial lift platform, having generated over 5x invested capital, our team is excited to have Riata as a partner. Their capital, experience and strategic support will further equip us to serve our customers while facilitating the accelerated growth of our capabilities, our footprint and the Extract brand.”

Barron Fletcher, Managing Partner of Riata, said, “We are excited to re-enter the artificial lift category that we know so well and partner with Brad and his exceptional team of operators.  As a critical, production-related service category, the artificial lift market continues to be driven by strong secular demand from energy producers to help them meet their production needs. With deep industry experience and customer relationships, best-in-class ESP and H-Pump systems and services offerings, and exceptional leadership, Extract is well positioned to become a formidable platform in the $5.5 billion North American artificial lift services market.”

About Riata Capital Group 

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on three industry sectors: business services, consumer, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 146 acquisitions representing over $4.5 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit www.riatacapital.com.

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March 14, 2018

Acuity Continues Growth Momentum with Two New Acquisitions

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) announced today that Acuity Eyecare Group (“Acuity”) has acquired two new regional eyecare groups as of March 2018:

  • One Hour Optical, based in the Denver market with four full-service locations including Denver, Aurora, Greenwood Village and Thornton, and one location in the Denver Health Hospital
  • 20/20 Image Eye Centers, based in the Phoenix market with five full-service locations including Fountain Hills, Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale and Chandler

Jeff Fronterhouse, Managing Partner of Riata Capital Group, said: “We are excited to have successfully completed these recent acquisitions. They are both strong additions to our existing Acuity portfolio and provide expansion into new markets that are dynamic and growing. Our continued focus will be to support our Acuity family with the important tools and resources needed to provide patients with full-scope professional eyecare and the highest quality product assortment and value.”

Acuity owns and operates leading North American eyecare groups and optometric practices, with over 70 locations across 8 states. Acuity also owns a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, located outside of St. Louis.

“We are thrilled to have added One Hour Optical and 20/20 Image Eye Centers to the Acuity family. They are not only well-known and well-respected in their markets, but their patient-focused philosophy truly make them a great fit for us. We are building a terrific culture of people across Acuity, and our highly experienced and talented management team is focused on driving growth and positive momentum in the marketplace,” said Eric Anderson, CEO of Acuity Eyecare Group.

Bret Davis, VP Corporate Development at Acuity Eyecare Group adds, “It was a pleasure working with Kevin Breslaw of One Hour Optical in Denver, as well as Drs. Tom and Vasvi Babu of 20/20 Image Eye Centers in Phoenix, throughout the acquisition process. We are actively looking for high potential eyecare groups that share our vision for exceptional patient care, and have a collaborative approach to growing the business.”

Acuity will continue to expand its market-leading eyecare platform through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent optometric practices. The Company expects to grow to over 100 locations by mid-2018. Acuity looks forward to sharing news of future acquisitions, exciting innovation and continued successes throughout the year.

About One Hour Optical

Founded in 1968 and currently owned by Kevin Breslaw, One Hour Optical is a Denver-based eyecare group with 4 full-service eyecare centers located in Denver, Aurora, Greenwood Village and Thornton, and 1 location in the Denver Health Hospital. One Hour Optical’s top priority is customer care and offers affordable vision services and comprehensive eye exams with caring, knowledgeable opticians. Additionally, they offer a wide variety of styles and brands of eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses and safety wear. For more information, please visit www.onehouroptical.com.

About 20/20 Image Eye Centers

Founded in 1996 by Dr. Tom Babu and Dr. Vasvi Babu, 20/20 Image Eye Centers is a Phoenix-based eyecare group with 5 full-service eyecare centers located in Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, Fountain Hills and Chandler. 20/20 Image Eye Centers offer the highest quality of vision care with courtesy and compassion. 20/20 Image Eye Centers takes a complete approach to caring for its patients and offers a full-range of optical services, comprehensive eye exams and an extensive line of eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. For more information, please visit www.2020image.com.

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March 12, 2018

Acuity Eyecare Group Announces New Chief Executive Officer

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) announced today the appointment of Eric Anderson as Chief Executive Officer of Acuity Eyecare Group (“Acuity”), effective March 12, 2018. Anderson was also elected to the Board of Directors of Acuity Eyecare Group, effective October 2017.

Acuity Eyecare Group, formed by Riata Capital in March 2017, owns and operates leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices. As of March 1, 2018, Acuity operates more than 70 optometry locations across 8 states. Acuity also owns a large full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, outside of St. Louis.

Jeff Fronterhouse, Managing Partner of Riata Capital Group, said: “We are excited to welcome Eric Anderson to the Acuity family as our new CEO. He is a proven industry leader who brings tremendous optical experience, a strategic vision for growth, and a relentless focus on developing great talent. As a recent member of Acuity’s Board of Directors, we were able to see Eric’s impact firsthand and recognize that his world-class leadership will be critical to realizing our future potential in the marketplace. Eric shares our passion for growth and people, which is instrumental as we continue to expand our market-leading platform.”

“Eric shares our passion for growth and people, which is instrumental as we continue to expand our market-leading platform.”

JEFF FRONTERHOUSE

MANAGING PARTNER, RIATA CAPITAL GROUP

Anderson brings over three decades of impressive business and optical industry success spanning multi-billion dollar companies across both domestic and international markets. Prior to joining Acuity, Anderson served as Executive Vice President at Fossil Group leading their $3 Billion multi-brand licensed portfolio. Previous to Fossil, he spent almost 20 years at Luxottica in several prominent leadership positions including President & GM of LensCrafters North America, Chief Executive & GM of GMO Opticas in Santiago, Chile, SVP & GM of Target Optical, VP Marketing & Business Development for Pearle Vision, and VP at Sunglass Hut. Anderson is well-known for his collaborative leadership style, drive for results, and ability to build strong, diverse teams.

“I am energized by the positive impact the optical business has on our patients and customers, and the amazing associates and doctors that make that possible. I feel honored to be joining the Acuity team and to have the opportunity to be part of an organization that embraces these ideals as we chart our path for strategic growth,” said Eric Anderson.  “I’m also looking forward to further building upon a strong leadership team with diverse backgrounds and experiences, and a proven track record of success.”

Riata also announced that Matt Matthews will be transitioning into a different executive role from his former position as Acuity’s CEO, and will continue to support Acuity through his strong industry relationships, business development efforts, and involvement on Acuity’s Board of Directors. Matthews was the former CEO of Crown Vision Center, which was ranked in 2016 by Vision Monday as the 26th largest eyecare group in the U.S. based on locations. He led the early integration of the initial three regional eyecare groups that were acquired to form Acuity, and personally knows the many benefits of becoming part of the Acuity family.

“We are appreciative of Matt’s contributions managing through the initial formation and integration of Acuity. He agreed to serve as CEO our first year as a company and his extensive optical experience has been important in building our capabilities,” said Jeff Fronterhouse. “These leadership changes we are now making are consistent with earlier developed long-term growth plans.”

Acuity will continue to expand its market-leading eyecare platform through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent optometric practices. The Company expects to grow to over 100 locations by mid-2018. Acuity looks forward to sharing news of future acquisitions, exciting innovation and continued successes throughout the year.

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January 22, 2018

Acuity Eyecare Group Strengthens Management Team with Addition of Four Senior Executives

Acuity Eyecare Group, which was formed by Riata Capital Group in 2017, has bolstered its management team with the addition of four experienced executives as it further supports practices in the group’s holdings and prepares to continue expanding this year. Acuity, as VMAIL reported, launched last March with a strong platform following the simultaneous acquisition of three cornerstone regional eyecare groups: Crown Vision Center, based in St. Louis; Eyetique, based in Pittsburgh, and International Eyecare Center, based in Quincy, Ill.

The recent additions to the Acuity management team are Shawn Deckert, as vice president of operations; Brian McCrea, as vice president of strategic initiatives; Meera Dua, as chief merchandising officer; and Lora DeVuono as chief marketing officer. “These most recent hires enable Acuity to be very well poised for continued growth and expansion across the country,” according to the company’s announcement.

Acuity is led by an experienced management team that includes chief executive officer Matt Matthews, chief financial officer Doug Shepard, chief information officer Satish Dave and vice president of corporate development Bret Davis.

Jeff Fronterhouse, managing partner of Riata Capital Group, said: “Based on our successful investment in Vision Source from 2011 to 2015, we are excited to continue to leverage and build upon our strong network of relationships, experience and track record in the eyecare industry. Acuity Eyecare Group is off to a very strong start and we are seeing the impact in the marketplace of the team’s expertise and efforts.”

Fronterhouse also noted that the continued focus of the company will be “to support our Acuity family with the important tools and resources needed to provide their patients with full-scope professional eyecare and the highest-quality product assortment and value. We are committed to keep the momentum going in 2018 and beyond and look forward to sharing our accomplishments, growth and important milestones along the way.”

New chief merchant Dua began her career in optical at Cole Vision Corporation, and she subsequently held various leadership roles with Sears Optical, Target Optical and Pearle Vision. With the acquisition of Cole Vision by Luxottica, Dua continued to diversify her experience. She took on high-profile merchandising positions within Target Optical, LensCrafters, GMO, product development and also led category management for all optical divisions.

DeVuono, who has experience in brand marketing and advertising, began her career at General Mills and then spent 20 years in multiple leadership roles at PepsiCo within Quaker Oats and Frito Lay. As SVP/ group vice president of brand marketing and advertising at Frito Lay, she led the entire marketing team and a powerful portfolio of multi-billion dollar brands.

Under her marketing leadership, Frito Lay transformed the health and wellness arena and built over a $1 billion dollar portfolio through consumer-centric innovation, advertising excellence and a high impact retail presence, according to the announcement. In addition to her Acuity role, DeVuono serves as an operating partner for Riata Capital Group.

Deckert, who began his optical career more than 25 years ago, has a broad range of eyecare experience that spans independent optical companies as well as some of the most iconic brands in the industry, including Target Optical, Oakley, LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut International. As vice president of operations at Target Optical, Deckert was instrumental in leading a turnaround by focusing on culture and “transforming [Target Optical] into one of the fastest-growing optical companies for more than a decade,” according to the announcement.

McCrea, who brings 25 years of experience within the optical industry, most recently was vice president of Central and LensCrafters Manufacturing for North America. He is best known for his results-oriented leadership style and successful implementation of large-scale organizational initiatives, according to the announcement. McCrea also has worked with Luzerne Optical, Lens Lab, Northeastern Eye and the LensCrafters unit of Luxottica. He spent 19 years with Luxottica and progressed through several key leadership roles.

In late 2017, Acuity added to its holdings with the addition of Malbar Vision, the largest and oldest private optometric practice serving Nebraska, according to Acuity’s announcement. As of Dec. 31, 2017, Acuity operated more than 60 optometry locations across six states. Acuity also owns a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, outside of St. Louis.

Acuity said it is seeking to continue expanding its platform through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent eyecare professionals. “Acuity currently has three additional groups under letter of intent, and expects to grow to over 100 locations by mid-2018,” according to the announcement. “This is a direct result of the market’s exceptional response to Acuity’s compelling story, operating philosophy and holistic approach to eyecare.”

“We are building a terrific team of respected and capable industry leaders at Acuity,” Matthews said. “We recognize that our culture of great people is the most important element to success and will bring our mission to life. We want to empower optometry owners to maximize the value of their practice, spend less time on the day-to-day headaches of being a business owner, and bring those into the Acuity family that share our level of commitment to innovation and patient care.”

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March 31, 2017

Riata Capital Group Announces Formation of Acuity Eyecare

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced the formation of Acuity Eyecare Holdings (“Acuity” or the “Company”), a company that will own and operate leading North American eyecare groups and optometry practices. Acuity launches with a strong platform following the simultaneous acquisition of three regional eyecare groups:

  • Crown Vision Center, based in St. Louis, which was ranked by Vision Monday as the 26th largest eyecare group in the United States based on locations;
  • Eyetique, based in Pittsburgh, which was ranked the 30th largest eyecare group in the United States based on locations; and
  • International Eyecare Center, based in Quincy, Illinois, which serves rural communities in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa.

Acuity begins operations with 61 locations across five states. Acuity will also own a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, that is located just outside of St. Louis.

Riata intends to expand Acuity into a market-leading eyecare platform through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent eyecare professionals. The formation of Acuity is the second platform investment of the Riata principals in the eyecare sector. From 2011 to 2015, certain of the principals organized and led the very successful acquisition of Vision Source, a market-leading network of independent optometry practices across the United States. Under the leadership of a very seasoned management team, Vision Source grew from 2,300 to over 3,150 locations, making its network of member optometrists second only to Walmart in terms of number of locations. Vision Source was sold to Essilor USA in late 2015, generating strong returns for its investors.

Jeff Fronterhouse, Co-Managing Partner of Riata, said, “We are excited to build upon our strong network of relationships, experience, and track record in the eyecare industry to create Acuity Eyecare. We understand the pressures, as well as the opportunities, for optometrists as the industry continues to evolve. As such, we see the formation of larger and vertically integrated corporate entities leading some smaller and mid-sized providers to consider partnering with groups like Acuity that can provide capable business, financial, and commercial support, allowing optometrists and their staffs to focus on meeting the eyecare and product needs of their patients.”

Mr. Fronterhouse continued, “The combination of these three successful eyecare groups, that together have experienced higher rates of sales growth than the overall market, provides Acuity with a strong initial base of operations in the Midwest region. Our focus going forward will be to support these groups, as well as others that join Acuity, with the tools and resources necessary to provide their patients with full-scope professional eyecare and the highest quality product assortment and value.”

Acuity is led by an experienced and successful management team, including Chief Executive Officer Matt Matthews, the former CEO of Crown Vision; Chief Financial Officer Doug Shepard, the former CFO of Eye Care Centers of America, Chief Merchandising Officer George Gebhardt, the former CMO of Visionworks, Vice President of Corporate Development Bret Davis, the former SVP of Business Development for Vision Source; and other senior executives from the leadership teams of Crown Vision, Eyetique and International Eyecare. Additionally, Acuity has assembled a board of directors consisting of experienced and very successful executives from the industry that will bring valuable insight as Acuity looks to expand.

Mr. Matthews noted, “We are excited to be a part of the Acuity platform, which is well-positioned for success with the support of Riata, an experienced capital partner that brings a deep set of industry relationships. In addition to the existing leadership teams at each of the three businesses, we have an impressive team at Acuity that brings substantial experience in important areas including medical eyecare, digital manufacturing and lab management, merchandising, supply chain, finance, and IT. We look forward to the exciting growth opportunities ahead for Acuity.”

Glenn Askew, a Riata Partner, commented, “Acuity is well-positioned for growth, and we will look to further expand the Company’s footprint in the Midwest and other regions organically and through the acquisition of additional market-leading eyecare groups and independent optometrists in attractive markets.”

In connection with the transaction, HPC Puckett & Co. provided financial advice to Crown Vision Center, Eyetique and International Eyecare Center.

About Riata Capital Group

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on four core industry sectors: consumer, energy, healthcare, and business solutions. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 55 platform investments and 75 add-on acquisitions representing over $4 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm’s core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs.

About Crown Vision Center

Founded in 1961, Crown Vision Center is a St. Louis-based eyecare group with 28 full-service eyecare centers. Crown offers affordable vision services and a wide variety of designer eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses to more than 60,000 patients in the St. Louis area each year. Additionally, Crown Vision Center owns a full-service digital lab, The First Look Lab, which surfaces, finishes, and AR coats lenses for Crown customers and third parties. Crown is also a provider of integrated medical eyecare services including LASIK, and the full range of Ophthalmology services and surgery. For more information, please visit www.crownvisioncenter.com or call 800.EYECARE.

About Eyetique

Founded in 1979 by Norman Childs, Eyetique is a Pittsburgh-based eyecare group with 21 eyecare centers, operating under the brands Eyetique, 3 Guys Optical Center, Norman Childs Eyewear, and Chromos Eyewear. The Eyetique brand is a long-established, high-end eyecare group selling premium third-party brands and its own Norman Childs Eyewear Collection, which is handcrafted in the USA. 3 Guys Optical, which was purchased and rebranded by Eyetique in 2010, is an accessible, value-oriented eyecare retailer offering a wide selection of eyeglasses and contact lenses. Comprehensive eyecare services are offered across all Eyetique and 3 Guys Optical locations. For more information, please visit www.eyetique.com or call 800.422.5320.

About International Eyecare Center

Founded by Dr. Jack McDougall in 1981, International Eyecare Center has grown from a single location in Quincy, Illinois, to 12 locations serving Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. For over 30 years, IEC has provided its customers with the latest in eyecare, contact lens innovations, fashion eyewear, and comprehensive eye exams for the entire family. IEC is also a provider of integrated medical eyecare services, and the full range of Ophthalmology services and surgery. Standing behind its promise to its customers that “Your Vision is Our Focus,” IEC takes pride in its commitment to its patients, as well as every community that it serves. For more information, please visit www.iec2020.com or call 877.457.6485.

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December 2, 2016

Riata Completes Recapitalization of WSS, a Category-Leading Hispanic-Focused Specialty Retailer

Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced that it has completed the recapitalization of West Coast-based WSS, a category-leading, Hispanic-focused specialty retailer of athletic, fashion, and work-related footwear and accessories. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1984 by entrepreneur Eric Alon and headquartered in Los Angeles, WSS offers customers a full assortment of the leading athletic footwear brands (including Nike, Jordan, Vans, Converse, Adidas, Skechers, Fila and Reebok) and private footwear offerings in fashion for women and workwear for men. After years of successful growth, WSS currently operates 76 destination stores located in underserved, predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Barron Fletcher, Co-Managing Partner of Riata, said, “We have been impressed by the  unique platform that Eric Alon, Rick Mina and their team have built in WSS, creating a  retail experience with real differentiation within its marketplace. Their core predominantly Hispanic customer continues to be underserved in the athletic and overall footwear retail space. We have been evaluating Hispanic-facing consumer platforms for some time now and believe WSS provides a unique opportunity to invest in a high growth, category-leading platform serving this important consumer segment.  Additionally, based on our team’s experience investing in and building other leading athletic retail platforms, including Hibbett Sports, Lids and Moosejaw, and our Texas roots, we have a great deal to offer WSS as their investment partner.  We look forward to contributing to WSS’s continued growth in existing markets and their successful entry into new ones.”

Regarding Riata’s investment, Rick Mina, President of WSS, said, “We are excited to have Riata as our investment partner.  Their capital and strategic resources will enhance our team’s ability to continue growing our brand and our business over the next several years.  Riata’s team has a long, successful history with specialty retail equity investments, and we anticipate gaining significant benefits from their experience.”

Mr. Alon said, “Our partnership with Riata allows us to position the WSS brand name for continued and steadied growth in existing and new markets while maintaining our DNA, which has been one of the catalysts of our current and future success.”

Other recent successes for the WSS include the launch of its flagship store in downtown Los Angeles, the featuring of key elevated brand shop-in-shop areas within their 11,000 square foot stores, and the successful expansion into Arizona and Nevada.

About Riata Capital Group

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on four core industry sectors: consumer, energy, healthcare, and business solutions. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 55 platform investments and 75 add-on acquisitions representing over $4 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm’s core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs.

About WSS

WSS is a Hispanic-focused specialty retailer in the U.S. doing business in neighborhood-based stores. Consumers trust WSS for the best brands, greatest values and largest selection of athletic, dress, fashion and casual footwear for the entire family. WSS’s large store format enables the Company to showcase thousands of styles from top name brands like Nike, Jordan, Vans, Converse, Adidas, Puma, and Skechers. In addition, WSS carries high quality private brands augmenting the breadth of selection to deliver amazing value to its customers. Founded in Southern California in 1984 by entrepreneur Eric Alon, all WSS stores feature a unique retail format that displays every style and size allowing customers to browse on their own terms, in a hassle-free environment, engaging the friendly and knowledgeable sales staff when they choose. The success of this business model has allowed WSS to continue its rapid expansion into new markets. WSS is committed to giving back to the communities they serve, sponsoring or participating in over 350 local events each year. Stay connected with WSS via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and at www.ShopWSS.com.

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December 1, 2015

Riata Capital Group and Alan Shor Partner to Invest in High-Growth Specialty Retail and Multi-Channel Consumer Companies

Riata Capital Group, LLC, a leading Dallas-based private investment firm, announced today that it has partnered with Alan Shor to invest in high-growth, specialty retail and multi-channel consumer companies. Mr. Shor is Co-Founder and President of The Retail Connection, a real estate advisory, management, and investment firm that represents over 275 retail and restaurant chains.

Mr. Shor brings more than 25 years of operating and real estate experience, knowledge and relationships in consumer and specialty retail businesses. Prior to co-founding The Retail Connection, Mr. Shor served as President, Chief Operating Officer, and member of the Board of Directors of Zale Corporation, North America’s largest specialty retailer of fine jewelry with 2,300 retail locations, and guided its successful turnaround in the early 1990’s. Mr. Shor has been involved with several of the Riata principals’ past investments, including Teavana and European Wax Center.

Riata Managing Partner Barron Fletcher said: “Alan is a trusted partner who brings invaluable perspective and very strong operating capabilities to consumer-facing retail and service platforms. We have made multiple successful investments with Alan in the past, and we look forward to replicating that success again.”

Mr. Shor said: “My close relationship with the team at Riata Capital goes back many years. We have been very successful historically, and continue to see many compelling opportunities to invest in high-growth, specialty retail and multi-channel consumer companies. With the added talent and resources of The Retail Connection that can be made available to support our investment activities as needed, we are excited about our prospects going forward.”

Riata Managing Partner Jeff Fronterhouse said, “Alan’s extensive real estate, retail and operating experience will be a great asset to our consumer investment activities. His deep connections in consumer and retail circles will enhance our ability to find attractive investment opportunities.”

Over the past two decades, Riata’s principals have completed forty two consumer transactions, representing over $3.1 billion in aggregate transaction value, and have created considerable value for investors. Representative investments include Dollar Tree, European Wax Center, Hibbett Sports, Lids, Moosejaw, Teavana, Walls Industries, The Children’s Placeand Fragrance Outlet.

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September 22, 2015

Riata Capital Group Partners with Brad Goebel and David Zachariah to Pursue Investments in Production-Related Energy Services Businesses

Riata Capital Group, LLC. (“Riata”) announced today that it has formed a partnership with Brad Goebel and David Zachariah to pursue investments in production-related energy services businesses, with an emphasis on sourcing opportunities in production equipment, production enhancement services, and water handling and disposal equipment and systems.

Goebel and Zachariah are seasoned energy services executives, each with more than 35 years of leadership experience in the sector. Prior to forming their partnership with Riata, Goebel and Zachariah served as CEO and COO, respectively, of Accelerated Companies, teaming with Riata Managing Partner Barron Fletcher to successfully build the business from $20 million to $430 million in enterprise value prior to its sale to Dover Corporation in October of 2014. Prior to Accelerated, Goebel and Zachariah built Applied Process Solutions, Inc. and Petreco International, Inc., ultimately selling to Hanover Compressor Company and Cameron International, Inc., respectively. Both transactions generated very attractive returns for investors.

“Accelerated is the most recent example of our historical success in energy services,” said Fletcher. “We support proven executives with capital, our firm’s resources and strategic guidance to deliver strong, consistent returns to our investors. While we take a long-term view toward investing in any industry, we believe that the continuing compression and dislocation in the oil and gas markets will create compelling opportunities to leverage the operating skills of Brad and David.”

“I look forward to working with the Riata team to invest in and build commercially important, leading platforms on the production side of the North American energy services space,” said Goebel. “Both David and I place a premium on working with experienced investment partners who have a similar view of the current competitive landscape and have created value through multiple market cycles.”

“We look forward to working with Brad and David to find niche opportunities in the energy services space that are often too small and over-looked by larger pools of capital,” said Riata Managing Partner Jeff Fronterhouse. “They have been particularly successful with building companies through acquisition, a “start small and build large” strategy that lines up well with our historical approach to investing.”

Riata Partner Glenn Askew will be actively involved with directing and supporting the strategy alongside Goebel and Zachariah.

Over the past two decades, Riata’s principals have completed over 22 energy services transactions representing over $900 million in aggregate transaction value. Representative investments include Benetech, JetStar Energy Services, and Accelerated Companies.

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January 13, 2015

Riata Capital Group Announces Formal Launch

Riata Capital Group, a Dallas-based private equity investment firm focused on sponsoring investments in privately held companies in the consumer, energy, healthcare and business solutions sectors, today announced its formal launch. Riata is led by Jeff Fronterhouse, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Brazos Private Equity Partners, LLC (“Brazos”), and Barron Fletcher, Founder and Managing Partner of Parallel Investment Partners (“Parallel”).

Mr. Fronterhouse said, “Barron and I have a long history going back over twenty-five years and have been socializing the concept of combining our experience, skill sets, and network of relationships for many years. We have both been in the industry for over two decades and share very similar views on the private equity business, investing, and the value of relationships. We look forward to building Riata into a leading firm in our industry.”

Mr. Fletcher said, “We are very excited about the launch of Riata, an investment platform that brings together strong capabilities in the private equity business. Our team’s deep investment and operations experience, together with our historical success in building market-leading companies, provides a compelling and differentiated value proposition for both business owners and our investors. Jeff and I share a passion for investing and look to build Riata into a market leader.”

Riata Team

In 1999, Mr. Fronterhouse co-founded Brazos, a Dallas-based private equity investment firm that has invested approximately $1 billion of equity capital across three private equity funds in buyouts and recapitalizations of private companies in the consumer, business services, healthcare and industrial sectors. Similarly, in 1999 Mr. Fletcher founded Parallel, a Dallas-based private equity investment firm that has invested over $330 million of equity capital across two private equity funds, sponsoring recapitalizations and growth capital investments in private companies in the consumer, energy and business services sectors. Over the last 15 years, Mr. Fronterhouse and Mr. Fletcher have sponsored more than 55 platform investments and 75 add-on acquisitions representing more than $4 billion in total transaction value.

Mr. Fronterhouse and Mr. Fletcher are joined at Riata by senior executives from Brazos who will lead the firm’s investment origination and portfolio company operational execution, and executives from Parallel who will focus on the firm’s finance, accounting and operations. In total, the Riata investment and portfolio company operations team has more than 100 years of experience in the private equity industry.

The Riata team is joined by eight operating partners who have worked closely with the principals on Brazos and Parallel portfolio companies for over a decade. These executives bring a long history of success in building and operating companies and considerable industry, strategic, organizational development, and functional expertise. In addition to their involvement with  Brazos and Parallel portfolio companies, these executives have held CEO or other senior management positions in companies such as Accuro Healthcare, Baker Hughes, Coleman Company, Concentra, Frito-Lay, Genesco, Sheridan Healthcare, and Zale Corporation.

Investment Strategy

Riata will sponsor both control and non-control investments of $10 million to $50 million of equity capital in private companies in four core industry sectors: consumer, energy, healthcare, and business & industrial services. The firm will invest throughout North America but will continue to invest actively in the Southwest region where the principals have sponsored a significant number of investments over the past two decades. Transaction types will include recapitalizations of closely held or family businesses, buyouts and divisional carve-outs of non-core subsidiaries or divisions of larger companies, growth capital investments in high-growth category leading businesses, and CEO-led buy & builds with seasoned executives.

The principals of Riata have sponsored or managed investments in companies such as Accelerated Companies, Dollar Tree Stores, European Wax Center, Healthcare Solutions, Hibbett Sports, JetStar Energy Services, Moosejaw Mountaineering, Shelter Distribution, Teavana and Vision Source.

About Riata Capital Group

Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on four core industry sectors: consumer, energy, healthcare, and business solutions. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 55 platform investments and 75 add-on acquisitions representing over $4 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm’s core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs.

Contact

Mark Semer
Kekst and Company
(212) 521-4800

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