Selected Investments

Rocket Dog

rocketdogRocket Dog is a leading global designer, developer and distributor of footwear. Founded in 1993 and based in Hayward, CA, Rocket Dog’s product categories include active, boots, casual, dress and sandals/flats designed with a unique youthful style.

Circle Peak and Golden Gate Capital are backing Rocket Dog’s President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Womack and the existing management team, who continue to lead Rocket Dog. Rocket Dog was acquired from New York Transit, Inc., a privately held fashion footwear company. New York Transit’s founder William Tai remains a significant shareholder and will continue to provide strategic direction in his capacity as a board member.

Rocket Dog is singularly focused on bringing fashion forward, high quality products to its consumers at reasonable prices. This commitment inspires excitement and loyalty among target consumers who find our brand in line with their fashion expectations. With strong financial backing from Circle Peak, Rocket Dog is expanding the brand globally and introducing fresh designs in categories that are consistent with customer desires.

Luxury Optical Holdings Co.

lux_logoLuxury Optical Holdings Co (“Luxury Optical”) is comprised of three leading, privately owned U.S. luxury optical retailing chains, Lunettes LLC, Morgenthal Frederics Opticians Inc., and Optical Fashion Center, Inc. This newly consolidated group has 25 stores that each offer over 40 high quality fashion eyewear brands, including several lines exclusive to the group. In addition, these stores offer the most skilled lens services and are located in premium U.S. retail sites, including New York City, Las Vegas, Boston, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Circle Peak Capital acquired the three retailers to form Luxury Optical Holdings Co on May 2, 2006. The company appointed Pierre Keyser as chief executive officer and Bernard Andrews to the board of directors. Mr. Keyser is a former executive at the Richemont Group, a $5 billion global holding company that designs luxury goods such as Cartier, Monte Blanc and Lancel. Mr. Keyser was previously involved in the launch of Cartier eyewear in the United States and the development of Logo Paris, the eyewear manufacturing division of Essilor. Mr. Andrews brings over 30 years of retail and merchandising experience, including a former role as CEO and chairman of Eye Care Centers of America (ECCA), a successful 380-store consolidation platform based in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Andrews will serve as a senior operating advisor and board member.

Circle Peak Capital partnered in the transaction with several senior operating executives and equity partners DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Goode Partners. Magnetar Capital Fund LP provided debt financing and participated as an equity co-investor.

Shari’s Management Corporation

sharisShari’s Management Corporation (aka Shari’s Restaurants), located in Portland, OR., is a 27-year old regional operator of a chain of family dining restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. With approximately 100 locations mainly in Oregon and Washington, and additional restaurants in Idaho, Wyoming, California and Nebraska, Shari’s Restaurants provides customers with high quality, reasonably priced meals in comfortable family restaurants. Shari’s restaurants are open 24 hours a day and feature a full selection of breakfast, salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, dinner entrées and dessert items.

Shari’s is committed to a continuous development of value-oriented, quality menu items that consistently exceed customer expectations and are served in an inviting, comfortable and quiet atmosphere. Shari’s has developed an exceptionally loyal customer base by following a fundamental set of operating principles including uncompromising menu quality and value pricing, excellent guest service, and continuous promotion of employee development and teamwork. Shari’s served over 20 million people in 2006.
Circle Peak, along with senior management and junior capital partners Carlyle Mezzanine Partners LP, Falcon Investment Advisors LLC, and Sankaty Advisors LLC, and senior capital partners Capital Source Finance LLC, Magnetar Capital LLC (also an equity co-investor), and Wells Fargo Foothill, acquired the company on December 28, 2005. The company appointed to the Board R. Adam Smith, managing director of Circle Peak Capital and Kerry Kramp, the former CEO of Buffets , Inc. (the $1 billion parent company of the family-oriented buffet restaurants known as Old Country Buffet and HomeTown Buffet, with over 350 restaurants in 38 states) along with the Shari’s CEO and representatives from its capital partners Carlyle, Falcon and Sankaty.

Hill & Valley, Inc.

hv_logoHill & Valley, Inc. located in Rock Island, Ill., is an 18-year old leading manufacturer of baked sugar free and no-sugar-added sweet goods. Sold nationwide primarily through the in-store bakery section of supermarkets, the company’s product lines include cakes, pies, cookies and brownies, which are currently sweetened using sugar substitutes derived from corn and other natural ingredients. Hill & Valley, Inc. targets the customer demand for bakery products with alternative sweeteners to sugar, especially for the diabetic and diet-conscious consumer.

Hill & Valley presently supplies over half of the top 25 U.S. grocery retailers and is known to be the largest exclusive provider of sugar free and no-sugar-added bakery products in the United States. According to Frost & Partners, the in-store bakery category had sales of approximately $18 billion in 2002 and is growing at a 6.5% compound annual rate, exceeding most other commercial food service segments.

WealthTrust, LLC

hv_logoWealthTrust, LLC is a leading national holding company for investment advisory firms that provide comprehensive wealth management services to high net worth families, individuals and institutions. WealthTrust holds ownership interests in ten affiliated firms across the United States, employs approximately 125 people, and collectively manages more than $6.5 billion in assets. The Company provides its affiliates with support in the areas of client service, sales and marketing, compliance, operations, technology, and corporate development. WealthTrust is headquartered in Nashville, TN.

Circle Peak Capital and its partners backed Chief Executive Officer M. Rush “Rusty” Benton, who founded the company in 1997 and has over 20 years of asset management experience, and the existing WealthTrust management team. The company also appointed Clinton J. Kendrick as chairman of the board and H. Richard Vartabedian, as vice-chairman. Mr. Kendrick is the former CEO and founder of Matrix Global Investments, former managing director of Lehman Brothers, former CEO of Hyperion Capital Management, and the former president of Alliance Capital Management. Mr. Vartabedian has held CEO and CIO positions in asset management at HSBC and Chase Manhattan Bank, and is the former president of the Chase Vista Mutual Funds.

Circle Peak Capital partnered with management and junior capital provider Falcon Investment Advisors, LLC. in the transaction.