Raleigh’s Gamila Products acquired by Seventh Generation

dranii@newsobserver.comJuly 15, 2014 

Gamila Products, a small Raleigh company that created a pair of innovative products for brewing single servings of coffee and tea, has been acquired for an undisclosed amount by Seventh Generation, which expects to significantly boost its sales.

“We’ve got a national-scaled sales organization, marketing and distribution,” said John Replogle, CEO of Vermont-based Seventh Generation. “What we’ll be able to do is plug this in both nationally and internationally and, we believe, grow it quite dramatically.”

Privately held Seventh Generation is best-known for its environmentally friendly household products. Last year its products generated retail sales of more than $300 million, Replogle said.

Gamila’s two products were developed by the husband-and-wife team of Aly and Beth Khalifa. Those products are: the Impress Coffee Brewer, which is a no-muss, no-fuss variation on French press brewing for people on the move that was produced after the couple raised more than $130,000 on Kickstarter; and the Teastick, a one-cup tea infuser that makes it relatively easy to use loose tea leaves.

Aly Khalifa said he had been anticipating that, if Gamila had remained independent, its sales would exceed $700,000 this year driven by growing sales of the Impress. That product was launched in April 2013 but was sold only online. This year Gamila started to reach out to distributors for brick-and-mortar stores. It made its first deliveries to wholesalers this month.

“We feel like we are just getting started in terms of the ramp-up,” Khalifa said.

Aly and Beth Khalifa aren’t joining Seventh Generation. But the deal calls for their product development firm based in downtown Raleigh, Designbox, to team up with Seventh Generation on developing new products – including a low-cost water filtration system for developing nations.

“It’s an opportunity that allows us to really expand on the dream of what we really want to do,” Aly Khalifa said. “I can’t wait to get on with this and see what else we can develop.”

The deal is structured so that the Khalifas will benefit financially from sales of Gamila’s products going forward.

“They have a stake in the future success of the business,” Replogle said. “They won’t be formal employees of ours, but we’ll be partners. ... You meet someone as talented as Aly and Beth, you want to work with them.”

Seventh Generation plans to fold the Impress and Teastick into its bobble brand products, a business it acquired last year and moved to Raleigh. Bobble bottles are reusable, on-the-go water bottles that filter your water as you drink.

Most likely the Gamila products will be renamed bobble Impress and bobble Teastick, Replogle said.

The bobble business and Seventh Generation Ventures, the Vermont company’s acquisition arm, are based in HQ Raleigh in downtown Raleigh. Adding two full-time employees from Gamila to that team will give the company a dozen employees in Raleigh.

“We expect, over time, we are going to continue to grow our footprint in Raleigh,” Replogle said.

Replogle is well-known in the Triangle. Before he joined Seventh Generation in 2011, he was the CEO for five years of Burt’s Bees, the Durham company that makes lip balms, lotions and other products from honey and other natural ingredients.

Raleigh is still home for Replogle, his wife and their four daughters. He splits his time between Raleigh and Vermont.

That Raleigh connection played a role in the deal.

Earlier this year, Replogle and Aly Khalifa participated in a conference call on sustainability that was led by William McDonough. McDonough is a renowned sustainability expert and co-author of “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.”

Khalifa discovered that Repogle was local and invited him over to his office for a chat. During that visit, Khalifa made Replogle a cup of coffee with the Impress and one thing led to another.

“It all just happened because of being neighbors,” Khalifa said.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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