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Impact Group Gains National Presence With Acquisitions

Meagan McGinnes

Impact Group is expanding its national presence.

Earlier this month, grocery broker Impact Group acquired two sister East Coast sales and marketing agencies, Wildfire Sales and Epic Natural Sales. The transaction, which comes two years after bringing on CI Capital Partners as a majority investment partner, marks Impact’s sixth acquisition since 2016 and officially establishes the Boise, Idaho-based company’s national footprint in the natural channel.

Impact Group, which was founded in 1994, has experienced exponential growth over the last four years. In that time, the company has added hundreds of employees and grown its customer roster to over 700 CPG brands including national clients like Amy’s, Siggi’s and KIND, and grocery retailers, including Kroger and Albertsons. But to fit the needs of these national brands, the company recognized it needed to become “a one-stop shop” for brands looking to grow their shelf presence, according to Impact president and CEO Carl Pennington.

The addition of Wildfire and Epic opens the doors into the east coast and expands in the midwest, in which the company did not have a presence before.

“They have a long history of working with the customers in that geographic area and have built a strong reputation of a very professional approach to their business,” Pennington said. “We are hopeful that we can migrate our existing client-base into the geography and assist in fulfilling our goal of having a national footprint with our client in both the natural and conventional space.“

The entire staffs of both acquired brokers will be retained under the new leadership, bringing Impact’s employee count to over 700 people. Prior to these most recent acquisitions, Impact had 670 associates. The new members are in the process of being integrated across Impact’s three main teams — fresh, center store and natural — but will report to their same managers.

Pennington said Impact Group is interested in adding more companies to its list of recent acquisitions, which includes Harlow-HRK, New Connections and Mingerink & Associates.

“Our goal is to continue down the path of what we started with continuing to focus on growth through both M&A and organic growth,” Pennington said. “Now that we have a national footprint, we are looking to infill and strengthen the geographic markets that we are in. We will also be looking to diversify channel, likely through M&A activity, to participate in the alternate channel, convenience channel and other areas so we can continue to expand and offer our clients more of a one-stop shop for all classes of trade to assist them in building their brands.”

According to Pennington, the company also needs to better support brands in channels outside of brick-and-mortar. Impact has hired a VP of E-commerce, who the company declined to name but is starting later this month, and has created an omnichannel specific team of buyers to support brands looking to play in the digital and direct-to-consumer worlds. Specifically the team will help brands to optimize Amazon sales, syndicate ecommerce, enhance the equity of content and create and manage individual branded online stores, according to the company.

“Similar to what we have done historically with helping clients navigate the natural and conventional landscape, we are going to be doing something similar online,” Pennington said. “Specific omnichannel business managers [will] assist clients to know how to navigate true online and [direct to consumer] engagement and really increase their volume in that area, but at the same time do the same with brick-and-mortar retailers that have already launched — or in the process of launching — their own ecommerce strategies.”

Impact won’t be the only one benefitting from the closing of this deal. Joining the Impact family gives Wildfire and Epic access to data and tools that the sister companies did not have prior to the acquisition.

“We are honored to join the growing Impact Group family and provide national sales service and enhanced opportunities to our clients in a rapidly changing industry,” Melanie Melia, president and CEO of Wildfire and Epic, said via a release. “Our partnership with Impact Group gives us access to best-in-class technology tools, valuable data and insights, category expertise, and much more.”

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