Plexus Capital invests in North Carolina candy company

Charlotte-based Plexus Capital said Tuesday that it has bought a majority stake in a North Carolina candy company, with plans to expand its production.

The management team of Piedmont Candy Co., based in Lexington, chose Plexus to recapitalize the company with equity and debt. Piedmont makes Red Bird brand peppermint puffs and old-fashioned stick candy, sold in convenience stores, pharmacies, discount stores and grocers.

The size of the deal was not disclosed. Plexus generally makes investments of between $8 million and $15 million, and managing partner Bob Anders said this one falls in that range. It’s the ninth investment in the firm’s $300 million third fund. Plexus bought the equity stake from Chicago-area private equity fund Rock Island Capital.

“It was just a very attractive situation for us,” Anders said. “The management team wanted us to be the majority owners, and we’re going to help them grow.”

Piedmont was founded in 1890 by Edward F. Ebelein. His son Robert operated the company until 1987, when he retired. The Reid family, natives of the Davidson County town of Denton, took over and maintain a minority stake in the company.

Rock Island first invested in Piedmont in 2006. Piedmont President Chris Reid said the company was drawn to the contacts, resources and support Plexus provides.

Reid said Piedmont is buying new equipment and plans to expand its product lines. New products could include chocolate-covered mints and natural mints.

“We’re going to do different flavors and sizes,” he said. “Expand on what we have.”