Dobson Family sells majority stake of Whataburger to Chicago-bas

Dobson Family sells majority stake of Whataburger to Chicago-based investment bank

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Family-owned Whataburger will be sold to a Chicago-based investment bank, the company announced Friday. Whataburger reports it is to begin exploring expansion plans, while staying true to its brand.

BDT Capital Partners will own a majority interest. The Dobson Family, which has owned Whataburger since the first location opened in Corpus Christi in 1950, will retain a minority interest in the company. The headquarters will stay in San Antonio, its location since moving from Corpus Christi in 2009.

There are nine Whataburger locations in Lubbock.

Two years ago we featured how Harmon Dobson started the restaurant. After his unexpected death in 1967, his wife Grace took over. Watch below.

 


This is a news release from Whataburger:

SAN ANTONIO – Whataburger announced today that BDT Capital Partners, LLC, a merchant bank that advises and invests in family and founder-led companies, has agreed to acquire through its affiliated funds a majority interest in Whataburger.

Together, BDT and the Whataburger team will begin exploring expansion plans – while staying true to the brand it has been over the past 69 years.

The company also announced an internal leadership realignment to position the brand for long-term growth and success. Most notably, the company named several new internal promotions, including a president, chief operating officer and chief restaurant operating officer.

Whataburger headquarters will remain in San Antonio.

New partnership poises the brand for long-term growth


“Whataburger has grown significantly over the years. And, in order to keep satisfying our customers, we’ve been exploring different options to expand the brand and introduce it to new audiences. We’ve gone through this process purposefully and diligently because we wanted to find a partner who honors our values, culture and 69-year legacy of family tradition,” said Whataburger President/CEO Preston Atkinson.

“We’re excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we’ve built,” Atkinson continued. “They want to preserve it while they help us continue growing a sustainable, competitive business over a long period of time. They don’t plan to change our recipe for success.”

BDT will be key in providing strategic vision and long-term growth capital to the tenured Whataburger leadership team.

“Whataburger is an iconic brand and extraordinary company with an important legacy of family ownership, loyal customers, valuable community involvement, dedicated and talented employees, and a highly experienced management team,” said Tiffany Hagge, Managing Director of BDT Capital Partners. “We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Whataburger team, continuing their commitment to serving high-quality, great-tasting food at a value and delivering a superior customer experience. We are excited to support Whataburger as they continue to innovate and pursue accelerated growth in existing and new markets. This investment is a perfect example of BDT’s business model – to partner and invest alongside exceptional family businesses, with strong cultures, deep community ties and loyal customers.”

Morgan Stanley and Ernst & Young (EY) acted as transaction advisors and Jackson Walker acted as legal advisor to Whataburger. Norton Rose Fulbright acted as legal advisor to BDT Capital Partners. Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, Inc. will provide the committed financing to support the transaction. Closing of the transaction is expected later this summer and is subject to customary regulatory and other conditions. Additional terms were not disclosed.

Tenured Whataburger core leadership team at the helm

Current Whataburger President/CEO Preston Atkinson and Board Chair Tom Dobson also elevated several leaders within the company. Whataburger’s leadership team holds more than 150 years of combined experience growing the Whataburger brand, and for that reason, all positions named were internal promotions.

“As the brand embarks on a growth and expansion plan, we decided the time was right to promote new leadership to carry the company forward,” said Atkinson. “This leadership team has the right combination of Whataburger core values, strategic vision and people-centered leadership to take us into the future.”

Effective July 1, Whataburger’s executive leadership team will include:

Ed Nelson, currently serving as chief financial officer and controller, will be promoted to president.
Nelson joined Whataburger in 2004 as controller for the company. Since 2008, Nelson has been at the helm of Whataburger’s financial department as chief financial officer, overseeing all finance, accounting, treasury and business risk and reporting operations for 828 restaurants across 10 states. He holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Clemson University.

Leonard Mazzocco, currently serving as vice president of business operations, will take on the role of senior vice president and chief operating officer.
Mazzocco joined Whataburger in 1999 as the operations services director and has since guided efforts in brand management, marketing, human resources, supply chain, shared services and product development. He was promoted to his current role in 2014, where he has led strategic planning. Mazzocco is a graduate of Creighton University.

Rob Rodriguez, currently serving as senior vice president of restaurants, will assume the role of senior vice president and chief restaurant operating officer.
A 30-year restaurant industry veteran, Rodriguez is an experienced multi-unit leader with a track record of delivering exceptional customer service. Under his guidance, his teams have successfully piloted new models used in concept revitalization, opened and expanded new restaurant markets, and surpassed sales forecasts. Rodriguez joined Whataburger in 2006 as a director of operations and was named a senior vice president in 2014.

James Turcotte, currently senior vice president of the real estate segment, will continue in his role and be promoted to chief development officer.
Turcotte began his Whataburger career in 1998 as a director in the real estate division. He then took on the role of group director followed by vice president of franchise development. In 2004, Turcotte was named vice president of property and facilities to oversee new construction, enhancement and property management functions. Turcotte is a graduate of Texas A&M University.

Mike Sobel, currently vice president of retail, will be promoted to senior vice president of retail.
Sobel joined Whataburger in 2011 as the company’s group director for supply chain solutions, before assuming his current role in 2014. Sobel brings almost 35 years of experience in supply chain, quality assurance and product development experience in the restaurant industry.

Michael Gibbs, currently senior vice president and general counsel, will continue his role as general counsel and will be promoted to executive vice president.
Gibbs joined Whataburger in 2005 as the company’s first ever in-house general counsel. Prior to joining Whataburger, he practiced corporate law and served as vice president and general counsel for a Detroit-based restaurant chain. He holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and economics from Ripon College, as well as an MBA from Emory University, and a law degree from Wayne State University.

About Whataburger
Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas. Dobson gave his restaurant a name he hoped to hear customers say every time they took a bite of his made-to-order burgers: “What a burger!” Within the first week, people lined up around the block for his 25 cent, 100 percent beef burgers served on five-inch buns. Today, the company is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with 828 locations in 10 states with sales of more than $2 billion annually.

About BDT Capital Partners
BDT Capital Partners provides family and founder-led businesses with long-term, differentiated capital. The firm has raised more than $15 billion across its investment funds and has created and manages an additional $4.7 billion of co-investments from its global limited partner investor base. The firm’s affiliate, BDT & Company, is a merchant bank that works with family and founder-led businesses to pursue their strategic and financial objectives. BDT & Company provides solutions-based advice and access to a world-class network of business owners and leaders.

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