Feuding family owners agree to sell Seville Flexpack

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Seville Flexpack Corp. Seville Flexpack Corp. makes flexible packaging for the food industry and other end markets.

Seville Flexpack Corp., a Wisconsin flexible packaging maker that has been in ownership turmoil since the death of its founder nearly three years ago, is being put up for sale.

The children of Walter J. Yakich have been fighting in court over the company since after his June 2014 death at the age of 90. But they finally agreed to one thing: It’s time to sell the converter.

“Obviously it’s been a distressing and difficult situation for the family since Walter’s passing and the conflict and controversy around the administration of his estate,” said court appointed turnaround consultant Laxson Boyd, who became interim CEO last year. “I think this is the best possible outcome for both the family and for the business.”

TKO Miller LLC, a Milwaukee-based investment bank, has been hired to sell Seville, a process Boyd said could take four to six months.

“The decision to sell the business finally came from the recognition that the family was not going to find a mutually agreeable path forward for professional management to assume control of the business and keep the business under family control,” Boyd said. “Just too much happened in the family. Too much controversy and dispute over the business to allow that to be a viable alternative.”

Boyd hopes to find a strategic buyer for the company, someone who is already operating in the flexible packaging business. The interim CEO believes that will bring the highest sale price.

“I think it’s very clear that a strategic buyer is going to see more value than a financial buyer,” he said. Boyd pointed to Seville’s loyal customers and employees as well as unused capacity that an existing converter could immediately use.

“There’s some wonderful things here that certainly I think will be valued very highly by folks who are strategically aligned,” Boyd said.

Prospective buyers already are showing interest in Seville, and TKO Miller will market the company to other potential buyers, he said.

“We expect to have strong interest from other participants in the flexible packaging industry who will see what a wonderful opportunity this is based on the great customers, great equipment, and great people,” said Joe Froehlich of TKO Miller in the statement.

Relations between factions of Yakich’s children have been anything but great in recent years.

Daughter Jan Drzewiecki was CEO but was suspended from that position last year as the case went through the court system, according to coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Other siblings have been concerned about getting their share of proceeds from the company.

Things got so bad that Drzewiecki had to ask a judge for permission to see her twin brother and ally Jay Yakich at Thanksgiving. He also had been suspended from the firm during the dispute and they were ordered not to have contact. The judge allowed them to see each other provided they did not talk about Seville, the newspaper reported.

Walter Yakich was not a young man when he started Seville.

“Walter found his life's passion by answering a blind ad for quality control for Milprint, a manufacturer of flexible packaging material. Throughout his career, he held executive positions in plant management, sales and marketing,” his obituary stated.

“In 1978 at the age of 55 he started his own business in flexible packaging, Seville Flexpack Corp. He designed and built four manufacturing plants and never retired. He would tell you that is why he lived as long as he did,” the obituary continued.

Seville operates two manufacturing sites near its Oak Creek, Wis., headquarters.

The company serves markets including food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, confectionary and personal care, according to the firm’s website.

All the family problems certainly had some impact on Seville, Boyd said. “It would lake credibility to say that it hasn’t had any impact. But I would say that the initial shock of the exit of the family being replaced by professional management has certainly been replaced with enthusiasm for the kinds of things we’ve tried to do while we’ve been here. ... The family had become distracted by their issues,” he said.

“I don’t perceive that the company has been significantly damaged by the process any more than any company would by having some sort of turmoil in top-level management. Businesses get through that assuming that you’ve got a good, strong core group of employees and customers and Seville does,” Boyd said.