Business Acquisitions Serve as a Pipeline for Innovation in the Marketplace

In business, sometimes David gives Goliath a hand

MgcGRIDLEY, Calif., June 17, 2013 - It's not just small businesses that benefit when they join forces with a large corporation. Mary's Gone Crackers is an example of how a small company can teach a large company something about business.

Mary Waldner started making whole-grain, gluten-free crackers in 2004 after she learned she had Celiac disease. Eight years later, her creation, Mary's Gone Crackers, found itself in need of a partner to keep growing in the right direction. It found one in Kameda Seika, Japan's largest manufacturer of rice crackers. The Japanese company purchased a majority share in Waldner's company because it was looking for a way to enter the U.S. market.

"Our values really seem to meld better with this Japanese company, and they were not interested in disassembling what we've built, and they in fact really appreciate it," Waldner said. "We have over 200 employees and we wanted to keep that family intact."

Other small companies that recently sold to larger corporations include Stonyfield Yogurt, purchased by Dannon, and Honest Tea, which Coca-Cola now owns.

Joe Sibilia, who represented Ben and Jerry's ice cream when the company was purchased by Unilever, said the innovative and socially conscious business practices of smaller companies often rub off on their "big brother."

"That has had a incredible impact on Unilever," he said. "Now, Unilever is one of the leading advocates related to corporate social responsibility and sustainability."

Waldner says in addition to an influx of capital to grow, her company is learning a lot from Kameda Seika about how to manufacture products more efficiently. At the same time, Kameda depends on Waldner's team to have a good understanding of its customers.

"That's the other thing that I like about this partnership is that they have a lot to learn about us and about the U.S. market," Waldner said. "So, we have as much to teach them as they have to teach us."

Mary's Gone Crackers also uses non-GMO ingredients, a practice Waldner says was important to continue.

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