NORMAN, Okla. and FOWLERVILLE, Mich., Jan. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Top of the World, LLC, the leading supplier of licensed collegiate headwear in the United States, and J. America, Inc., an industry leading designer and distributor of licensed and blank apparel, announced today that they have signed a definitive merger agreement. The merger creates a single company Top of the World Holdings, LLC, that has been recapitalized by Blue Point Capital Partners.
Scott Shuler, current President of Top of the World, LLC will lead the new company's licensed apparel and headwear operations as President of the Licensed Division. This dynamic division will enhance the entire end-to-end value chain by providing clients, retailers, licensing partners and consumers with a one-stop solution for industry leading headwear and apparel. "This merger allows a single company to better leverage our brand, secure additional product offerings, and deepen our supplier relationships," Shuler said. The new company includes Top of the World's over 500 collegiate headwear and apparel licenses, a ground-breaking exclusive license with The Ohio State University for all headwear and apparel, two headwear exclusives for the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma, over 65 mass market and mid-tier headwear exclusive agreements, and exclusive U.S. wholesale rights for all adult John Deere headwear and apparel, among other important licensed consumer and athletic brands.
Mr. Jeff Fenech, co-founder of J.America, will lead the new company's Wholesale Blanks division, which supplies product under the J.America label to wholesale distributors and decorators across the country. Fenech has more than two decades of experience in this sector and is poised to continue its double-digit growth. "We couldn't be more excited about the merger," said Fenech. "It will allow us to offer even more innovative products and designs to the market."
This merger is all about our customers and partners," said Chip Chaikin, Partner at Blue Point. "As brand management becomes increasingly critical to licensed programs, this combination creates a company with industry-leading resources, experience, and people. With a full range of products, broad distribution reach and a culture of flexibility, the new company can meet the needs of our customers, however they evolve."
Top of the World, LLC has led the collegiate headwear market for over three decades and is a clear leader in both product and design. J. America, with its innovative programs for The Ohio State University and John Deere, has established leadership as a single-source licensed apparel company. With the combination of these capabilities, Top of the World Holdings, LLC is now one of the largest and most diversified suppliers within the collegiate licensing and broader headwear and apparel industry.
Jeff Radway, J-America Co-Founder, will have a significant investment in the combined company. He plans to relinquish control of day to day operations but will serve on the board of directors and as a strategic advisor. Pete Ruhala, a J-America Co-Founder will continue to lead the local Sportswear business of the combined company. Ben Turner and William Pope will each continue in their existing roles as well.
The planned merger is scheduled to close by the end of January. The combined business will include four distribution facilities across Oklahoma and Michigan, a design center in Columbus, Ohio, a sales office in North Carolina, and a Hong Kong-based sourcing office.
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SOURCE J. America, Inc.