BBQGuys, Backed by Eli and Peyton Manning, Inks $963 Million Velocity SPAC Deal

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BBQGuys, an e-commerce platform for grills and related products backed by retired American football stars Eli Manning and Peyton Manning, has agreed to go public through Velocity Acquisition Corp., a blank-check firm.

The transaction values the combined entity at $963 million, and sets up the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based company for future growth, Velocity founder Doug Jacob and BBQGuys CEO Russ Wheeler said in a joint interview. Existing BBQGuys investors including private equity firm Brand Velocity Partners and others including NFL veterans Archie Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson and Steve Hutchinson are slated to own about 71% of the combined entity.

BBQGuys, Backed by Eli and Peyton Manning, Inks $963 Million Velocity SPAC Deal

“We’re at the intersection of two really strong categories: outdoor living and e-commerce,” said Wheeler, noting that consumers showed during the pandemic that they were willing to buy more-expensive products online. He pegged BBQGuys’ total addressable market at $46 billion, and said it can be a “one-stop shop” for not only individuals but professionals such as architects and builders.

Founded in 1998, the company sells high-end grills, accessories and outdoor kitchen products, as well as rubs and seasonings. It has bolstered its portfolio of company-owned brands, like Blaze and Victory, and offers premium cuts of meat.

Even as more Americans visit restaurants amid the vaccine rollout, Jacob said outdoor entertaining will remain in vogue. “Behavior has changed for good -- families have embraced the idea of investing in their backyards and homes being more than just a place to lay your head at night,” he said.

New Acquisitions

BBQGuys may drive growth through acquisitions, possibly in adjacent categories or other brands, Wheeler said. In April, the company announced the purchase of Pacific Coast Manufacturing, a maker of stainless-steel accessories. Weber and Traeger -- which have each filed to go public -- are among the company’s third-party partners.

After exploring a traditional initial public offering, the company chose to merge with the Velocity SPAC based on the belief that Jacob and his team could accelerate its brand-building efforts with their digital acumen, said Wheeler.

BBQGuys posted 2020 revenue of $264 million, a figure that is expected to exceed $320 million this year, Jacob said. It has yet to repay $70 million in debt due to a prepayment penalty, but plans to be debt-free eventually.

“This is a scaled, growing, profitable business that is public-ready,” said Jacob, who is also a co-founder of investment platform &vest.”

Brand Velocity Partners allocated 10% of its so-called carried interest, or profits from their bet on BBQGuys, to non-senior management employees of the company.

BBQGuys is set to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker “BBQG.” Bloomberg News reported on the talks last week.

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