Follow the Money: Travel Startup Traxo Raises $1.85M; Ryan, ECi Software Make Acquisitions

You'll also find news from Harvest Returns, 2GR Equity, Brinker International, Accessible Systems, Robin, Rehab Outfitters, Encompass Health, USI Insurance, U.S. Risk, Modern Systems, InterCool, Hicks Lightning Protection, Corepoint Health, and Higginbotham in this roundup of funding, merger, and acquisition activity involving companies in North Texas.

acquisition funding

What companies are finding funding or having a big exit? From startup investments to grants to acquisitions, Dallas Innovates tracks what’s happening in North Texas money every Thursday. Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay in the loop.

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Travel data startup Traxo raises $1.85M in Series B funding round

Dallas travel tech startup Traxo said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it has raised the final $1.85 million of a $5.2 million Series B offering. 

Traxo specializes in aggregating data and tracking passenger loyalty and behaviors. It lists German airline Lufthansa and other travel companies among its clients.

Traxo CEO and founder Andres Fabris told Dallas Innovates that this new funding, which has 22 investors, is the final part of the company’s Series B funding round. Traxo announced at the end of 2016 that it was raising $5.2 million in the Series B round that was led by TripAdvisor. The investment helped Traxo scale up its offerings and allowed it to focus its growth on Europe and Asia.

Harvest Returns launches Qualified Opportunity Zones fund for agriculture 

Fort Worth-based agriculture investment platform Harvest Returns has launched the Sustainable Agriculture Opportunity Zone Fund to help farmers in Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs).

Opportunity Zones are aimed at encouraging economic development by providing tax benefits to investors and were established by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Harvest Returns said the fund’s goal is to achieve tax-advantaged capital appreciation in agricultural projects that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.

“Our fund is primarily focused on bringing capital to farmers in rural areas. About 40 percent of the designated opportunity zones are located in rural areas across the United States,” Harvest Returns CEO Chris Rawley said in a statement. “These areas present an untapped opportunity for job creation and to strengthen the food system with investments in sustainable agriculture.”

The fund will invest in agricultural businesses in economically disadvantaged regions of the United States and will give investors tax-favorable risk-adjusted returns in non-correlated assets. In other words, if two assets are non-correlated, the price movement of one of the assets has no effect on the price movement of the other asset.

2GR makes equity investment in hotel acquisition joint venture

Grapevine-based real estate investment firm 2GR Equity announced an equity investment into a joint venture with Presidian Hotels & Resorts for the acquisition of the 291-room DoubleTree hotel near San Antonio International Airport.

2GR said that major renovations are planned for the hotel including all new guest rooms, a total redo of the lobby/bar/restaurant area as well as upgrades to the iconic interior courtyard.

Presidian, with Alamo System Industries serving as the general contractor, will oversee all renovations, which are scheduled to begin by year’s end. 

The principals of 2GR Equity, founded in 2011, are David and Isaac Gregory.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Brinker to acquire 116 Chili’s restaurants from franchisee

Brinker International Inc., the Dallas-based casual dining restaurant company, has executed a letter of intent to acquire 116 Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurants from ERJ Dining.

No financial details about the acquisition were released, which is expected to close in the first quarter of Brinker’s fiscal year 2020.

Primarily located in the Midwest, the restaurants generate roughly $300 million in annual revenue. Brinker said in a statement that it intends to fund the purchase price from its existing credit facility.

“This acquisition is a compelling opportunity to further invest in our brand, broaden our scale and create growth in earnings and cash flow,” Joe Taylor, chief financial officer and executive vice president of Brinker, said in a statement.

Brinker owns, operates, or franchises 1,676 restaurants under the name Chili’s Grill & Bar and 53 restaurants under the Maggiano’s Little Italy brand.

Ryan acquires Canadian property tax consultancy 

Dallas-based Ryan LLC has acquired AEC Property Tax Inc., a property tax consulting company based in Toronto, Canada.

No financial details were released on the transaction, but Ryan has said the acquisition will expand its market position, client portfolio, and service capabilities in Canada.

AEC was founded in 1973 and provides property tax solutions to Canadian companies in the hospitality, commercial, industrial, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, retail, and power sectors.

ECi Software acquires Pacsoft, enhancing its Australian presence

Fort Worth-based ECi Software Solutions, a cloud business management software and services provider, has acquired Pacsoft in a deal that will significantly enhance ECi’s presence in Australia.

No terms were released on the acquisition, which closed on July 1.

Maine-based Pacsoft is a provider of inventory management and point-of-sale software solutions for retail businesses across the globe. It has a significant presence in the Australian, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands markets. ECi said in a statement that it will continue to innovate, sell, and support the Pacsoft suite of solutions, and its customers will join roughly 4,000 businesses that already utilize vertical-specific solutions from ECi’s LBM and Hardlines (LBMH) Division to run their businesses.

Robot lawnmower startup Robin exits to Ohio company

Robin Autopilot, the Dallas-based robotic lawn mower startup has been bought by Ohio-based Fahey Group, which will move the company’s headquarters to Strongsville, near Cleveland. No terms of the deal were released.

Robin, which was founded in 2015, has over 1,000 customers in the U.S. using the robotic mower technology in 15 locations in 12 states. Landmark Automation, a Fahey Group business, owns and operates the Cleveland and Tampa franchises of Robin.


READ NEXT: Dallas-based Robotic Lawn Mower Startup Robin Exits to Fahey Group


Founders Justin Crandall and Bart Lomont will stay with the company, but Fahey Group founder Logan Fahey will become Robin’s CEO, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Robin was a Dialexa Labs company, which is an incubator for employee ideas in Dallas. Dialexa said it worked with Crandall and Lomont to take the concept from idea to launch by “reimagining the future of lawn care,” offering mom-and-pop landscaping companies online payment for customers and job scheduling.

Corepoint Health, Rhapsody announce merger

Frisco-based Corepoint Health, an integration platform for healthcare organizations, is merging with Rhapsody, a Boston-based provider of healthcare data interoperability.

No financial details were released.

The companies said in a statement that the merger will join two organizations at the forefront of interoperability and create a combination of technology, talent, services, and trusted customer relationships that will address complex healthcare interoperability problems.

Healthcare interoperability is the ability for varied information systems and software applications to communicate and exchange data, and to use the information that is exchanged.

Higginbotham acquires Pasadena-based insurance agency

Fort Worth-based Higginbotham, the largest independent insurance and employee benefits broker in Texas, announced that it is acquiring Gilliam Insurance Agency of Pasadena, Texas, via a merger.

No financial details of the deal were released. Gilliam, an independent commercial property/casualty insurance broker, specializes in the trucking industry.

Higginbotham has offices in nearby Friendswood and Houston that will partner with Gilliam Insurance Agency to offer its single-source solution for insurance and financial services to area businesses. 

In June, Higginbotham bought Extraco Bank’s commercial insurance operation.

Extraco Insurance is a group of five property/casualty insurance professionals operating in the Texas cities of Waco, Temple, and Hamilton for 19 years. They will continue doing business under the Higginbotham name.

Hicks Lightning Protection acquires California company

Ponder-based Hicks Lightning Protection has acquired Tectoweld, a lightning protection installation company based in Torrance, California.

Hicks’ services include turnkey lightning protection and grounding systems, installation, design, and engineering.

The company said the acquisition will give it a base on the West Coast to service California, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. No financial information about the deal was released.

InterCool USA buys Freije-RSC industrial refrigeration division

Carrollton-based InterCool USA LLC has acquired the industrial refrigeration division of Freije-RSC, a deal that will significantly expand the presence of both companies nationwide.

InterCool is one of the nation’s leading industrial refrigeration design-build contractors, and Freije-RSC is a 50-year-old design-build industrial refrigeration contractor based in Indiana and Ohio, according to a statement.

This acquisition will provide the companies’ customer bases with access to additional products, services, and markets.

The Freije-RSC industrial refrigeration division will maintain its name, for now, as part of the InterCool family and will continue to operate out of its current offices in Indiana and Ohio.

Acquisition of Dallas’ Modern Systems is completed

Advanced, the third largest software and services company in the United Kingdom, has completed its acquisition of Dallas-based Modern Systems, a global leader in application modernization.  

The companies said the deal will deliver a strong footprint for Advanced in the United States, and bolster each company’s existing presence in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and North America. 

According to the statement, Modern Systems has more than 30 years of experience, having completed 200-plus legacy application modernization projects, with 1.5 billion lines of code processed with its legacy application source code, data, and platform transformation solutions.  

USI completes deal to acquire U.S. Risk Insurance Group

The acquisition of U.S. Risk Insurance Group, the Dallas-headquartered property and casualty program and specialty brokerage firms by Dallas-based USI Insurance Services has been completed.

USI is a leading insurance brokerage and consulting firm. No financial details of the transaction were disclosed.

According to a statement, U.S. Risk will maintain its Dallas headquarters and will continue to operate independently under its existing brands, U.S. Risk, Oxford, MGB, James Hampden International, Antarah, and UNIS.

U.S. Risk Chief Executive Officer Randall G. Goss and his leadership team will continue to lead those businesses, the statement said.

Accessible Systems of Dallas, Rehab Outfitters merge

Accessible Systems of Dallas has merged with Arlington-based Rehab Outfitters of Arlington, creating a partnership that will allow Accessible Systems to expand its offerings to stairlifts, wheelchair lifts, wheelchair ramps, overhead ceiling lifts, and lift and transfer systems throughout the state.

Denver-based Accessible Systems said its systems help a homeowner move throughout the bathroom and bedroom areas and stay in their homes despite disability or mobility issues. No financial terms were released.

Rehab Outfitters President Erik Strader will be the general manager and leader of the North Texas location, Accessible Systems said in a statement.

Encompass Health acquires Alabama-based home health, hospice provider

Encompass Health Corp., a national leader in integrated healthcare services, has completed its previously announced acquisition of privately owned, Birmingham-based Alacare Home Health & Hospice. No financial details were released.

Birmingham-based Encompass Health headquarters its home health and hospice business in Dallas. The acquisition adds 23 home health and 23 hospice locations to the company’s Alabama footprint.

According to a statement, the acquisition makes Encompass Health the nation’s fourth-largest provider of Medicare-certified skilled home health services and ranks it among the top 10 largest hospice providers in the country based on Medicare reimbursements.

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