Apple & Eve to be sold for $150M to Canadian company


Apple & Eve founder and CEO Gordon Crane says the company will maintain its headquarters in Port Washington, even after its acquisition by Lassonde Industries Inc. This is Crane on April 6, 2010. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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Quebec's Lassonde Industries Inc. has agreed to buy Port Washington juice company Apple & Eve LLC for $150 million in cash.

Closely held Apple & Eve, with 65 employees in Port Washington and 20 more around the country, will continue to maintain its headquarters in Port Washington after the acquisition, founder and CEO Gordon Crane said Monday.

"The good news is the Port Washington office will remain, and we together have plans to build and grow the services we provide from here," said Crane, who began the company with his brother to help defray the cost of attending Hofstra University's law school.

Apple & Eve, which reported sales of about $217 million in 2013, markets natural and organic juices under the Apple & Eve, Apple & Eve Organics, Fruitables and Sesame Street brands. The juices are bottled at 14 plants around the country through contract arrangements, while the Port Washington office handles marketing, billing, invoicing and quality assurance.

Lassonde, based in Rougemont, Quebec, posted revenue of more than $1 billion in 2013, selling juices, soups and sauces under the Oasis, Allen's, Fairlee, Everfresh, Lassonde Specialties and Tropical Grove brands.

Crane said he was a "long-haired hippie" when he founded Apple & Eve as he entered law school in 1975. "I decided to pursue a personal dream of mine: to create a line of healthy, unfiltered juices -- the kind you find in health food stores," he said.

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In the beginning, Crane contracted with a cider mill in the Hudson Valley to press apples for his natural juice. By the time he finished law school in 1978, the company had revenue of $1 million.

"I decided to stick with the juice company and give up my career in law," he said. "I've never looked back."

Crane said he and his brother, executive vice president Cary Crane, would remain with the company. The deal, under which the Crane family and Newport Beach, California, private equity investor ClearLight Partners would relinquish their stakes in the company, is expected to close later this month.

The deal is one of several in recent years in which Long Island companies have been bought by foreign companies. Plainview-based Aeroflex Holding Corp., a public company, was bought in a deal announced in May by Cobham PLC of the United Kingdom.

"Our entry into the branded juice business in the United States represents another major milestone in our North American strategy," said CEO Pierre-Paul Lassonde said.

Crane said Lassonde Industries courted Apple & Eve as a way to enter the branded juice business in this country.

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