Headquartered in the heart of the Willamette Valley, Coastal Farm and Ranch is the largest independent farm and ranch retailer in the Pacific Northwest, serving its customer base of farm and rural lifestyle enthusiasts from 20 locations in Oregon and Washington.
The business was founded by Buzz Wheeler in 1990 through the initial acquisition of three stores in Oregon. Over the next two decades, Coastal established a strong foothold in growing rural markets near thriving urban centers, which drove consistent revenue growth. No business grows in a straight line, but Buzz combined savvy in-store department choices with opportunistic acquisitive growth to build a formidable portfolio of productive locations.
In recent years, Buzz began stepping back from the day-to-day operations and leaned on his experienced management team to run the business and execute its business plan. At the same time, Buzz saw substantial opportunities to continue the Company’s expansion in the Western United States.
Buzz realized that the necessary capital investment, investment horizon, and risk appetite that would enable Coastal to capitalize on these opportunities didn’t lie with him. He had no children involved in the business, and he came to the conclusion that the best way to build on Coastal’s legacy and support its employees, customers, and communities served was to bring on a partner who shared his vision.
We were hired to help find that partner. After we got “under the hood” to understand the complexities of the business, we realized that any transaction was going to have meaningful complexity. Coastal had many locations, each with its own operating dynamics and at different stages of maturity, as well as new locations under construction. Coastal’s locations also occupied buildings and land that was owned by third parties—some by the Wheeler family, and some not. Finally, the backdrop of the global pandemic both increased short-term operating costs and increased same-store sales in many locations, as customers were generally spending more time at home and spending more dollars on their home lives (as anyone with a new pet or new home project can attest).
Ultimately, we engineered a multifaceted transaction that helped the Wheeler family achieve its goals. Buzz was able to retain and recapitalize his real estate holdings and bring on a new controlling partner with the capital and ability to achieve the best path forward for Coastal, while retaining a role that allows him to stay connected to the business he spent much of his career painstakingly building. That partner, the family office of Peter Nolan (Nolan Capital), brings Peter’s substantial retail experience earned through his career at retail-focused private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners, along with additional industry connections and analytical firepower.
Buzz entrusted us with the responsibility of securing the best future for Coastal and for his family’s interests, and we were delighted to deliver for him and the Coastal brand.
“I have gotten to know and trust the Zachary Scott team over the past decade. I knew from the first meeting with Frank and Mark that when it came time to explore my family's ownership transition alternatives, I would be turning to them for their advice and assistance.
Zachary Scott spent significant time up front to dig in and understand our business, and led us throughout marketing, negotiations, and due diligence. The process that ZS organized resulted in several actionable alternatives, and we couldn't be happier with the outcome and our partnership with Peter Nolan and his family office. We are proud to transition the majority ownership of Coastal from one West Coast family to another.
The leadership, knowledge, and most importantly patience that Zachary Scott exhibited throughout the process was truly amazing.”
The Disadvantage of Constraining the Universe of Buyers in a Sale Process
Restricting the buyer universe during a transaction puts constraints on an optimal outcome.