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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

New Kirkland private equity firm acquires Yakima produce services company

By Mai Hoang Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA – Graphic Label Inc., a Yakima company that has provided labeling, traceability and other services to fruit growers in the Pacific Northwest and California for more than two decades, has been acquired by a private equity firm.

The acquisition is the first of many planned for Kirkland-based OneAccord Capital, which aims to purchase and grow small companies owned by retirement-age business owners.

Graphic Label Inc. has worked with produce and fruit growers throughout the Pacific Northwest and California providing a wide array of labels and tags as well as systems that enable produce companies to track products through the supply chain.

The firm hopes to acquire about eight companies over the next three years, co-founder Jeff Rogers said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Graphic Label Inc., established by Lyle and Shelley Von Essen in 1993, now has 20 employees.

Lyle Von Essen said he and his wife started thinking about the company’s transition four to five years ago. They decided to find a buyer after their daughter, who was running a business of her own in the Seattle area, declined to take it over. They started talking to prospective buyers about a year and a half ago.

OneAccord Capital “had the same values as we did,” Von Essen said.

“They didn’t have a desire to buy the business and resell it quickly,” he said. “It was a long-term commitment to the business.”

Indeed, OneAccord is looking at a decade-long time frame for the companies they will acquire, Rogers said.

“Our fund has a long-term strategy of growth,” he said.

The Von Essens will stay with the company until the end of the year to assist in the transition and will be available on an as-needed basis after that.

While Von Essens said he’ll miss aspects of the company he’s built for the last two decades, such as the relationships with customers and employees, but he felt confident that the company would thrive under OneAccord’s ownership.

“We want to see this business go to the next level and grow,” Lyle Von Essen said. “… This business can do more without us than with us.”