Top of the World LLC, a supplier of licensed collegiate headwear in the United States, and J. America Inc., a designer and distributor of licensed and blank apparel, have signed a definitive merger agreement to form a single company, Top of the World Holdings LLC, that has been recapitalized by Blue Point Capital Partners.

Scott Shuler, current president of Top of the World LLC, will lead the new company’s licensed apparel and headwear operations as president of the licensed division. This division will enhance the end-to-end value chain by providing clients, retailers, licensing partners and consumers with a one-stop solution for headwear and apparel.

“This merger allows a single company to better leverage our brand, secure additional product offerings, and deepen our supplier relationships,” Shuler said.

The new company includes Top of the World’s over 500 collegiate headwear and apparel licenses, an exclusive license with Ohio State University for all headwear and apparel, two headwear exclusives for the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma, more than 65 mass market and mid-tier headwear exclusive agreements, and exclusive U.S. wholesale rights for all adult John Deere headwear and apparel, among other important licensed consumer and athletic brands.

Jeff Fenech, co-founder of J. America, will lead the new company’s wholesale blanks division, which supplies product under the J. America label to wholesale distributors and decorators across the country. Fenech has more than two decades of experience in this sector and is poised to continue its double-digit growth. “We couldn’t be more excited about the merger,” said Fenech. “It will allow us to offer even more innovative products and designs to the market.”

This merger is all about our customers and partners,” said Chip Chaikin, partner, Blue Point. “As brand management becomes increasingly critical to licensed programs, this combination creates a company with industry-leading resources, experience and people. With a full range of products, broad distribution reach and a culture of flexibility, the new company can meet the needs of our customers, however they evolve.”

Jeff Radway, J. America co-founder, will have a significant investment in the combined company. He plans to relinquish control of day-to-day operations but will serve on the board of directors and as a strategic advisor. Pete Ruhala, a J. America co-founder, will continue to lead the local sportswear business of the combined company. Ben Turner and William Pope will each continue in their existing roles as well.

The planned merger is scheduled to close by the end of January. The combined business will include four distribution facilities across Oklahoma and Michigan, a design center in Columbus, Ohio, a sales office in North Carolina and a Hong Kong-based sourcing office.

Photo courtesy Top of the World