Ice machine maker cool with Middleby takeover

Follett Corporation

An ice machine manufacturer with European manufacturing operations that was acquired by the Middleby Group last month has said the sale of the business was in the “best interests” of staff and shareholders.

Follett Corporation, which turns over $140m (£97m) a year, was seen by Middleby as an ideal fit for its growing beverage equipment unit.

The Pennsylvania-based outfit produces ice machines, ice and water dispensing equipment, ice storage and transport products, and refrigeration products for the foodservice industries. It also runs a plant in Poland manufacturing branded ice management products as well as stainless steel kitchen components.

And while Follett will now effectively become one small cog in Middleby’s $2 billion (£1.4 billion) a year wheel, CEO and president Steve Follett insists the company is in the right hands.

“We are excited to be part of the Middleby family,” he said. “Follett has been experiencing significant growth, adding over 150 jobs in the Lehigh Valley and over 185 jobs worldwide since 2011. As our board of directors considered our strategic direction, we concluded that a partnership with The Middleby Corporation was in the best interest of our employees and shareholders.”

Follett suggested the brand would be allowed to continue operating in the way that it has been rather than being consolidated within the group. “Middleby owns many of the premier brands in commercial foodservice equipment and allows their acquired companies to operate in a largely autonomous manner. This creates continued growth opportunities for our employees at our operations in the Lehigh Valley, Gdansk, Poland, and in field sales locations,” he said.

Commenting when the acquisition was announced last month, Middleby’s CEO, Selim Bassoul, said the firm would fit neatly into its portfolio of foodservice equipment: “Follett is a strategic fit with our growing beverage platform, complementing existing Middleby brands in a number of domestic and international market niches, and providing for opportunities to offer combined beverage and ice solutions. We are excited about Follett’s past record of growth and its strong position for future growth, which will be further enhanced within the broader Middleby group.”

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