Eickmeyer remains president of Wood Stone.
Wood Stone will remain a privately held company and will continue to operate out of its Bellingham, Wash., location. "We plan to continue to run it as a separate business. We don't plan to integrate it or anything like that. It's not like we bought another fryer company," said Rob Connely, president of Henny Penny.
As a result, Kurt Eickmeyer will remain as president of Wood Stone, which will maintain the way it goes to market, including its use of independent manufacturers' reps. Connelly added that there were no plans for any Henny Penny staff to transition to Wood Stone. "The last thing we want to do is disrupt the channel. We want to continue to support how we go to market and how they go to market. Don't look for it to be anything more than that," Connelly said. "We are really looking for this to be something great for the Wood Stone employees in that they will get to work in a way that they are used to and even grow."
In addition, Connelly made it clear that Wood Stone co-founder Keith Carpenter will remain involved with the company and that Carpenter will determine what the next chapter of his career will look like. "Keith will be as involved as he wants to be," Connelly said.
In fact, the deal comes during a time when Wood Stone's business appears to be thriving. "Their core business — stone hearth ovens — continues to grow. Some of their other products are poised for high-volume sales and we can probably help with that. They are having great growth and we have the capabilities to help fund that growth," Connelly said. "We are really pumped up. They are a great company with a great future. We think their customers and our customers will benefit."
Fueling growth for both companies was the impetus behind this deal. "We have really been focused on organic growth and our main areas have been frying and holding. But we have been considering different ways we can expand," Connelly said. "We heard from our customers that we have the capabilities to manufacture a good product and the scale to support them globally. And within that we've had lots of conversations about how we can further support our customers. It's a way we can carry on and grow together. The things that are the same are our culture, values and approach to market. But our differences are many: the way they manufacture, go to market and even their customers. And we plan to honor those differences."
Eickmeyer agrees and adds, "With Henny Penny, Wood Stone will be able to innovate and grow without compromising its brand, core values and niche product offerings."
The fact that both companies have similar corporate cultures also made the deal attractive to Henny Penny and Wood Stone. For example, as privately held businesses both Henny Penny and Wood Stone take a long view when looking at company growth and performance, instead of going quarter to quarter. And each company places a premium on its customer and employee relationships. Connelly was quick to point out that in its 66-year history Henny Penny has not laid off one factory worker. "And that's how we pride ourselves when going to market and that's how we got to know Wood Stone," Connelly said. "Over the years we have admired what they do and how they do it. We have looked for opportunities to work together and from there it started to come together during the past 11 months."