For Bare Feet, Inc., branded and marketed as FBF Originals LLC, a leading manufacturer, distributor and retailer of licensed and novelty socks, has been acquired by Taglich Private Equity (TPE) in partnership with a member of FBF’s founding family and management. FBF’s 110 production and front office jobs at its headquarters in Martinsville, Indiana, will remain with the current executive team and staff.
The company was founded in the 1980s and had been family-owned, among its founder Sharon Rivenbark and her four daughters until the sale to Taglich which closed in late December 2018. Rivenbark is retired and three of the daughters desired to exit the company which prompted the sale to TPE. Rivenbark’s youngest daughter, Kelly Baugh, remains as FBF’s chief executive officer.
FBF Originals is the longest-tenured sock licensee of the National Football League and is also licensed with hundreds of colleges, the National Hockey League, NASCAR, and Fortune 500 companies and other businesses such as chocolate manufacturer Hershey, Wrangler, and Mossy Oak, among others. From 1997-2016 FBF Originals produced the official on-court sock of the National Basketball Association.
Taglich Private Equity specializes in leveraged and management buyouts, recapitalization and majority equity investments. It targets manufacturing, business services and consumer products companies. TPE has completed over $700 million in transactions since its inception in 2001.
“TPE prides itself on finding sound investment opportunities with strong management teams – businesses with sustainable competitive advantage and something that is unique and special,” said Taglich Private Equity Managing Partner William Morris. “FBF Originals was of immediate interest to us given their sturdy market position and unmatched experience in licensed sports and novelty sock categories. They have a great management team and we look forward to supporting them in growing the business.”
“It’s business as usual regarding day-to-day operations,” said Baugh regarding the new ownership. “We are excited about the opportunity Taglich Private Equity provides to invest further and develop the FBF brand.”
The FBF story is both entrepreneurial and heartwarming. Rivenbark, a schoolteacher and single mother, started the company in 1984 with a 19th-century sock-knitting machine and a quaint shop named For Bare Feet in a rural tourist community in Brown County, Indiana. The shop, located 1-hour south of Indianapolis, is still in operation along with others across the United States. The present-day FBF Originals corporate headquarters and factory houses state-of-the-art equipment and measures 225,000 square-feet. The facility knits high-quality socks, headbands, wristbands, scarves and other items sold by retailers across North America.