May 7, 2004
Roark Capital Group Acquires Pike Family NurseriesSource: Various

Roark Capital Group, an Atlanta-based private equity firm, has acquired a majority interest in Pike Family Nurseries, the largest independent lawn and garden center in the Southeast and the third largest in the United States. Pike is Roark Capital’s fourth acquisition of a multi-unit business and its third of an Atlanta-based company.

The Pike family will continue to run the 46-year-old company, founded by William “Pete” Pike. William is handing over chief executive duties to his son Randy, who will be the new president and CEO of the company. Roark is providing Pike Family Nurseries with a board of experienced retail executives, and a new chairman will be elected to Pike’s board, which is currently being formed.

According to Neal Aronson, Roark founder and managing partner, Roark will provide Pike with the resources it needs to expand the store base. Randy says, “For several years, we’ve been looking for a good partner to expand outside of the city of Atlanta. Roark’s history has been very successful. The information and knowledge that they have gives us a wonderful opportunity to expand.”

“Pike Family Nurseries stands for the highest quality products and the best customer service,” said Aronson. “Our objective is to take all those core elements, provide Randy Pike with resources and take advantage of some terrific growth opportunities.”

“Roark has the same vision as Pike. They have the same family values that we would like to maintain,” Randy said.

“The Pike family are wonderful, first-class people, and we’re really excited to partner with them,” said Aronson. “We’re glad that the family is staying involved in the business. It’s good for the company, it’s good for the employees and it’s good for the customers.”

Pike currently has 26 stores around metro Atlanta. Although definitive growth plans haven’t been made, Randy says, “The long-term goal is to build locations not only through the state of Georgia, but through the Southeast.”

According to a recent article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Pike has had intense competition from garden centers at Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s. However, the business has been able to remain steady, with about $100 million in annual sales.

“One of the ways to succeed is to get the product out to the people who want it,” says Aronson. “If someone moves to a town where there is no Pike’s, they might seek a Lowe’s or a Home Depot. If we add stores, and people have a choice to go to the Pike Family Nursery, we think they will because they have an incredibly loyal customer base that really appreciates the service level and the quality of the product.”

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