New York private equity firm The Wicks Group has purchased a majority share in Bendon Publishing, a leading purveyor of coloring, activity, and other mass market book formats. One of the three Bendon co-owners, CEO Don Myers III, will leave the company, while the other two, Ben Ferguson and Terry Gerwig, will stay on, serving as CEO and executive v-p, respectively.
“This is an infusion of capital to springboard growth,” says Ferguson, noting that it will be business as usual at the Ashland, Ohio-based company. “There are a lot of opportunities in this market. We’ve been growing every year, and we needed more financing to sustain that,” adding that Bendon will be "looking for some strategic acquisition opportunities.”
Some of Wicks’ other holdings include Sundance Publishing, a K-12 reading and language arts specialist; EMC/Paradigm, a publisher of high school and college educational materials; and CFM, a religious publisher whose divisions include Standard Publishing and RCL Benziger.
The deal marks the end of Kappa Investment Group’s 40% position in Bendon, held since 2007. Kappa Investment is an affiliate of Kappa Books, which last week announced its purchase of Modern Publishing, a key competitor of Bendon’s in the coloring and activity market.
Separately, Bendon has acquired an exclusive license for the mess-free “magic reveal” patents formerly held by Giddy-Up, the now-defunct craft and activity division of Elmer’s. Elmer’s sold most of Giddy-Up’s assets to toy companies Poof-Slinky and Melissa & Doug last fall.
Bendon has incorporated the color-change technologies into its new ImagineInk line, which it is pairing with most of its licensed properties, including those in the Disney, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, and Warner Bros. families. ImagineInk includes rub-and-reveal, mess-free marker, magic ink, water-surprise, and velvet-reveal books and was launched this week at Toy Fair to a good reception, according to Ferguson.