Manufacturer of high-quality beverage solutions 

Founded in Wisconsin since 1979, Trilliant is renowned for its high-quality, specialty coffees and offers a broad array of high-quality beverages, ranging from coffee to cappuccinos, hot cocoas and much more.  Trilliant is one of a few vertically integrated coffee manufacturers in the market, meaning it sources, roasts, grinds and packages its own coffee beans, primarily in the single serve K-Cup format. The Company provides a full suite of beverage solutions to retailers throughout North America under its own and retailers’ brands.

The Value Creation Opportunity

The partnership with Trilliant and its CEO, Mike Upchurch, resulted from the Kainos investment thesis related to the growing demand for functional, convenient foods at attractive price points. We were focused on opportunities within the $10 billion single serve coffee market (K-Cups), where there was a need for high quality products at value price points for more price conscious consumers that were underserved by more expensive branded alternatives.

We had a strong relationship with Mike Upchurch dating back to our team’s prior investment in Sturm Foods, where Mike was also the CEO. We maintained a strong relationship with Mike after the sale of Sturm Foods, and in the fall of 2014 began discussions to make an investment in Trilliant. Mike wanted a partner to help him rapidly grow Trilliant, invest in significant expansion capacity and replicate the success that we had enjoyed together at Sturm. We shared an entrepreneurial spirit focused on one thing:  exceeding consumer expectations.  We wanted to offer consumers the highest quality single serve branded coffee products in a variety of packaging formats that provided significant value versus the traditional competitors.

Change Capital At Work

The most transformative initiative we undertook with Mike and the Trilliant team from day one of our partnership was a $100 million+ capital expansion plan. This capital plan doubled Trilliant’s manufacturing facility and added new manufacturing lines, nearly tripling production capacity.  A key focus for growth was to pursue whitespace opportunities in non-traditional food retailers including discounters, convenient stores, home improvement, sporting goods and dollar stores that also leveraged the Kainos team’s relationships. This increase in capacity enabled Trilliant to aggressively add new customers in these alternative channels by offering a broad array of products in a wide variety of packaging formats that are attractive to value retailers and consumers. The capital plan also expanded Trilliant’s new product capabilities through the addition of equipment that helped develop a larger range of cocoas and cappuccinos, as well as the capability to become one of the first domestic manufacturers of Nespresso-compatible drink pods.

We sold Trilliant in 2017, approximately two years into our partnership, after more than tripling the profitability of the business.