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Angel Investment Helps Traverse City Business 'Call in Big Bucks'

TRAVERSE CITY -- A $170,000 investment made in June by the Northern Michigan Angels, along with the BlueWater Angels, came at a perfect time for the three entrepreneurial partners in Altus Brands LLC of Traverse City.

Formed in 2008, Altus Brands identifies companies in the hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation that manufacture and sell retail products through similar channels of distribution.

Altus then says it works with exiting owners to develop a plan for partnering or acquisition which will unlock the value of the company, moves that typically include additional capitalization, integration and leveraging of established distribution channels, production and administration.

Since inception, Altus has acquired 10 brands and entered into 14 distribution and fulfillment deals in the hunting, fishing, shooting and outdoor recreation market. Included were Cass Creek Outdoors game calls, Pro Ears hearing protection, Benchmaster Shooting Products, Bughat, Woodland Whisper, Harmon Scents, Heart Stopper Lure and Pro Hood.

The Northern Michigan Angels' $170,000 investment -- the first investment made by the group, which formed in the summer of 2011 and began looking for deals in November --  created the latest opportunity for growth at Altus Brands by supporting the purchase of Extreme Dimension Wildlife Calls, an innovator in the electronic game call industry.

This investment also provided the equity Altus needed to secure a loan from the Traverse City State Bank which, together, provided the necessary capital to acquire Extreme Dimension.

"We are fortunate to have connected with Brian Breneman, Charles Ricci and Gary Lemanski of Altus Brands to put this deal together," said Ron Hurd, founding member of Northern Michigan Angels and investment deal lead. "These innovative founders are taking a new approach to the market and one we expect will be very successful. Their knowledge and approach helps other entrepreneurs and supports the outdoor enthusiast's lifestyle which is integrated into the lives of many here in northern Michigan. We are partnering with other angel groups in Michigan to develop what we are calling the Michigan Alternative. This is a unique structure for investing in emerging companies that provides capital during the growth years plus incorporates a built-in exit opportunity for the angel investors down the road. This is the deal structure that was used for the investment in Altus Brands and we hope to use this term sheet model for future deals."

The Northern Michigan Angels was formed with the assistance of an advisory board of local successful business leaders, the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, and the Midland-based MidMichigan Innovation Center.

According to founding member and director Deanna Cannon, "We have learned a lot about structuring an angel investment group, analyzing deals, and connecting with entrepreneurs as we've launched the Northern Michigan Angels, and the support of both the BlueWater Angels, and the MidMichigan Innovation Center has been instrumental. We also invited BlueWater Angels to participate in the Altus Brands investment which brought additional capital to the deal."

Altus Brands vice president of sales and marketing Charles Ricci and CFO Brian Breneman said they could not have made the acquisition of Extreme Dimension without the support of the Northern Michigan Angels and the BlueWater Angels. Altus Brands welcomes them onboard the growing team and sees this as an opportunity for the company to enhance their breadth of offering to the hunting consumer and provide expanded market opportunities for both the Altus Brands and Extreme Dimension Wildlife calls, which will be relocated to Traverse City.

Northern Michigan Angels is actively recruiting new members and sponsors. Cannon commented that they have a growing investor group and an increasing supply of enthusiastic entrepreneurs looking for capital.

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