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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

A Midwestern ethanol plant that transformed into a producer of grain-based, high quality specialty alcohols has a new owner.

CC Industries recently acquired Marion Indiana-based CIE, which operates a "world-class, commercial-scale distillery."

Ocean Park, a boutique investment bank and financial advisory firm, served as a financial advisor to CIE during the transition.

Mark Fisler, partner and managing director for Ocean Park, tells Brownfield "CIE is a great example of a business that successfully transformed itself over the course of time through a combination of strategic thinking and vision. It was originally built in 2007 and was later retrofitted to produce what we call grain-neutral spirits. It was really the management team as led by CEO Ryan Drook. His team looked forward to potential market forces and adapted the business to be a successful supplier of grain-neutral spirits to a variety of segments."

CIE serves customers from Fortune 500 spirit, food, and fragrance brands to niche artisan craft distilleries.

He says Ocean Park is focused on renewable fuels, energy, food, agriculture technology, and the ag supply chain.

"Part of our role is to help firms like CIE navigate through growth and transformation and close deals through mergers and acquisitions, financings, and restructurings," he says. "In the case of CIE, it really started a year and a half ago. We were talking about how the business had transformed, where they were at from a life cycle and growth this case we ended up selling more than 90 percent of the company. It was purchased by CC Industries, a family office of Henry Crown and Company based in Chicago. They are highly focused on industrial companies like CIE and have a variety of investments in the ag supply chain so they understood the business. They've retained all the senior leadership and all of the plant personnel. It was a good transaction for CIE and CC Industries."

Fisler says a lot of work went into retrofitting the business to produce grain neutral spirits.

"That takes substantial reinvestment in the process, putting in place other process islands that clean up the alcohol. That takes investments, development of knowhow, and a little bit of secret sauce that goes into that," he says. "As important though, is that you put a management proposition around the ability to produce these cleaned alcohols. That includes marketing and working with customers. It's qualifications, certifications, and a lot of process that goes into that to create a successful business plan around cleaned alcohols."

CIE will operate as a stand-alone entity and president and CEO Ryan Drook along with the entire management team, will continue in their current roles.

Fisler says "we were proud to be involved with such an amazing leadership team that has built an extraordinary business. We think we came up with a good result and look forward to watching them as they continue to grow the company.

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