TheraPearl acquired by Ohio company


Columbia-based TheraPearl was acquired this month for an undisclosed sum. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business)

To hear Daniel Baumwald put it, selling his company was a lot like dating.

The process began in April, when Baumwald, president of TheraPearl, a Columbia-based maker of hot-cold packs, picked up the phone and called the chief executive of Performance Health, an Akron, Ohio-based company that makes rehabilitation and wellness products.

It was the first move in a rapid courtship that culminated this month with the acquisition of TheraPearl by Performance Health.

“We spoke on the phone and we both liked each other,” Baumwald said. “After that, we thought we should hook up in person.”

Within six weeks, the union was finalized.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but TheraPearl’s 16 employees will stay on board, and its operations will remain in Columbia, according to Baumwald.

“We loved the technology behind the product, and we loved the brand this team has built,” said Marshall Dahneke, president and chief executive of Performance Health.

TheraPearl, founded in 2008, was the brain-child of Gina Dubbé and her doctor, Carol Balthazar, who wanted to find an ice-pack alternative to frozen peas. The duo spent four months and $10,00o creating the glycerin-filled hot-cold packs.

The company has grown rapidly, expanding into national chains such as Wal-Mart, Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Last year, sales totaled $10 million, and Baumwald said the company is expected to bring in roughly $15 million in revenue in 2014.

The idea, he said, had always been to build up the company and then sell it. Even so, the deal with Performance Health came rather unexpectedly — and quickly.

“We weren’t necessarily on the campaign trail or anything,” said Baumwald, who worked for Vitamin Water when it was acquired by Coca-Cola. “It was just one of those things where we connected.”

This is the third acquisition in 10 months for Performance Health, which oversees brands such as Biofreeze and Bon Vital. The company has built a business selling its products to rehabilitation centers and clinics. TheraPearl’s strength, meanwhile, lies in its massive retail presence.

The hope, Baumwald and Dahneke said, is that the two companies will be able to learn from each other as TheraPearl looks to expand into chiropractic offices and physical therapy clinics. The company is also looking to beef up its business at sports clubs and fitness outlets.

But there are still a number of details to figure out. For starters, Baumwald has no idea what his new title will be.

“Honestly, I have no clue,” he said, adding that the companies are planning to meet next week to iron out logistics. “For now, though, it’s business as usual.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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