GRANT — Members of the DeVos family are increasing their investment play in the craft beverage industry with the acquisition of a majority interest in a Newaygo County maker of hard ciders, MiBiz has learned.
Documents filed with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission last month show the DeVos-backed RC Investors LLC is acquiring a 51-percent stake in Grant-based Ridge Cider LLC, a maker of alcoholic ciders located at 351 W. 136th St. along M-37, about 35 minutes north of Grand Rapids.
Conklin-based apple farmer Bruce Rasch and Matthew DeLong launched Ridge Cider in 2014, offering a range of hard ciders at its tasting room. The company’s name is derived from the area in northwestern Kent County known as the “ridge,” an elevated stretch of land that offers an ideal microclimate for growing fruits.
State filings show that RC Investors is managed by Windquest Group, the family investment office for Amway scion Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy DeVos, whom president-elect Donald Trump recently selected as his secretary of education.
The filings also show that Dick DeVos, his two sons and a son-in-law formed RC Investors on April 27. Dick DeVos, Rick DeVos, Ryan DeVos and Nathan Lowery each maintain a 25-percent stake in the investment company. In a filing, Lowery lists his spouse as Elisabeth (Elissa) DeVos Lowery, one of Dick DeVos’ daughters.
In filings with the MLCC on Nov. 17, RC Investors indicated it will take over controlling ownership in Ridge Cider, with DeLong maintaining 36.5 percent ownership. Rasch would continue to have 12.5 percent stake in Ridge Cider.
Rasch declined to comment for the story, noting the company had not finalized any deal. Requests for comment from DeLong and Windquest Group were not returned before this report was published.
The deal for Ridge Cider will mark the second acquisition this year for the DeVos family in the craft alcoholic beverage industry in West Michigan.
MiBiz was the first to report in January that an entity managed by the DeVos-held Windquest Group acquired Holland Charter Township-based Coppercraft Distillery LLC, which had been struggling to find growth capital. Since the deal was announced, the producer of hard spirits expanded with a new tasting room facility in Saugatuck.
The RC Investor filings note that Rick DeVos, Ryan DeVos and Lowery hold a membership interest in Coppercraft. In the filings, Dick DeVos indicated that he holds a membership in wine bar/restaurant Reserve in downtown Grand Rapids, but noted that he is “currently in the process of divesting this interest.”