Land Mark officials announce major merger

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Land Mark is a manufacturer and distributor of pizza and sandwich solutions that has served the retail and foodservice industries since 1977. The company provides pizza products to the convenience store industry and expanded its solutions into grocery, private label and other markets. Headquartered in Milford, Land Mark manages the Piccadilly Circus Pizza and Day’N Night Bites brands.
Photo by Russ Mitchell

Two of the region's biggest convenience store pizza suppliers are going into the food business together.

Land Mark Products and Orion Food Systems on April 4 announced a merger that brings competing brands under one umbrella. Milford-based Land Mark's signature product is Piccadilly Circus Pizza. Sioux Falls-based Orion gives its convenience store partners Hot Stuff Pizza as an offering.

"We are delighted to unite two longstanding businesses with such well-known brands in this strategic partnership," Orion Chairman of the Board Frank Orfanello said. "As a combined business, we will be able to offer a tailored solution to meet the needs of convenience store operators, from turnkey foodservice franchises that include equipment and post-sale consulting, to custom-designed programs for distributors."

The merger is backed by One Rock Capital Partners, but financial terms were not disclosed.

Land Mark owners Jason Farrell and Randy Johnson will be investors in the combined entity, alongside Land Mark founder Rod Simonson and One Rock. The companies said Farrell and Johnson will continue in their leadership roles as president and chief executive officer and executive vice president of finance and distribution of Land Mark, respectively. Both companies are nationwide convenience store distributors that specialize in pizza offerings.

"With the combined companies, we are the largest pizza supplier to the convenience store industry — right here in Milford, Iowa," Farrell said.

The companies work under different supply agreements. Hot Stuff Pizza is available through franchise agreements. Convenience store owners carry Piccadilly Circus Pizzas through a licensing agreement. Farrell said both companies plan to keep distinct recipes for their food offerings as well.

"They're very similar to us," he said. "We've actually been doing the same thing — and fighting each other — for the last 30 years."

There are no plans to rebrand the sister companies or their signature products, according to the Land Mark CEO, who said, "Land Mark stays Land Mark and Orion stays Orion." Customers will continue to see the Piccadilly Circus house brand at the estimated 700 locations around the country. Hot Stuff brands are found at more than 1,000 locations in the United States.

In addition to its headquarters in Sioux Falls, Orion has a facility in Kimball, Tennessee. Workers produce Gourmet Grub, Chix Chicken, CHOPZ, Paavo's Pizza and Papa Primo's Italian Kitchen brands in addition to Hot Stuff Pizza.

Orion employs about 300 people; Land Mark has a workforce of 120, with plans to expand the dough plant in Milford. Land Mark purchased dough from a supplier up until 1993. Now pizza dough, USDA frozen pizzas, breakfast sandwiches and lunch sandwiches are made at the Milford factory. Farrell said operations have outgrown capacity.

"Right now, we're actually doing a $10 million expansion in our plant, so we hope to have some more people here a year from now," Farrell said. "We should be bringing more manufacturing to the town of Milford."

Land Mark officials brought in new equipment and will add 80,000 square feet to the current 77,000-square-foot facility. Weather has hampered construction, but Farrell hopes the expansion will be complete by July.

The Milford company dates back to 1977, as a Piccadilly Circus franchise model for pizzerias. In 1980, Simonson opened a Piccadilly Circus restaurant in Milford as a franchisee and eventually bought the company. The shift from restaurant operator to convenience store supplier began in the mid-1980s.

"From that point, we started growing like wildfire with the Piccadilly concept," Farrell said. "But the parent company now is Land Mark — when Rod formed his company, he called it Land Mark. We've just started going into convenience stores, and I've been in it since 1986."

Land Mark also offers grocery, private label and Day'N Night Bites products to its customers.

"We are committed to building the leading foodservice company serving the convenience channel, and the combination of Orion and Land Mark is a significant step forward in that journey," One Rock Managing Partner R. Scott Spielvogel said.

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