BUSINESS: Private Equity Gryphon Investors Enters Vision Care With Investment in Vision Innovation Partners, Leading Eyecare Group in Mid-Atlantic Region By Staff Monday, May 16, 2022 12:27 AM SAN FRANCISCO—Gryphon Investors (Gryphon), a leading middle-market private equity firm, has partnered with Vision Innovation Partners (VIP), a leading provider of eyecare services in the mid-Atlantic region. Financial terms of the transaction—which marks the investor group’s first move in the eyecare sector—were not disclosed. New York-based Centre Partners was an initial investor in VIP. According to the Centre Partners website, the firm no longer holds an ownership position following the Gryphon transaction. VIP chief executive officer Mike Dunn, his management team and physician equity holders will all remain with the company and will maintain a significant ownership stake post-close, the announcement noted. Founded in 2017 and based in Annapolis, Md., VIP offers a comprehensive range of eye services and treatments. The group includes more than 140 practitioners operating out of 65 clinics and 11 surgery centers across Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Pennsylvania. VIP is among the region’s leading ophthalmology providers, according to Gryphon’s announcement of the partnership late last month. According to Luke Schroeder, deal partner and head of Gryphon’s health care group, VIP has acquired and successfully integrated 23 practices over the past five years, and it has established a reputation as the partner of choice for medical eyecare providers in the Mid-Atlantic region. “The company has an established pattern of investing in state-of-the-art medical equipment and improving practice management resources, delivering outstanding patient care and offering an attractive value proposition and work-life balance to physicians,” Schroeder said. Kevin Blank, operating partner in Gryphon’s health care group, said the firm has a “proactive evolving sector initiative strategy” and has long targeted vision care as an attractive area of health care. He added, “The eyecare market, including ophthalmology, optometry, retina and optical retail services, is currently valued at over $50 billion and growing, thanks to an aging population and a prevalence of chronic eye disease. With our deep experience in operationally supporting high-quality, multi-site health care facilities and our focus on best-in-class companies with potential for accelerated growth, we believe VIP is a great fit for Gryphon.” Added Justin Saks, a managing director in Gryphon’s health care group, “Given the highly fragmented nature of eyecare practices and the resources a platform like VIP can offer solo practitioners, we see immediate opportunities for expansion. VIP’s core mid-Atlantic region and adjacent areas are densely populated, and the company is well-positioned to pursue continued growth, both organically and through additional acquisitions.” Dunn said the VIP team is excited to partner with the team at Gryphon, and plans for long-term sustainable growth. “Gryphon brings financial and operational resources that will allow us to build our brand for the future and provide our differentiated services to more patients.” VIP began in 2017 when Drs. Maria Scott and Mark Whitten combined their mid-Atlantic ophthalmology groups, Chesapeake Eye Care and Laser Center and Whitten Laser Eye, to create a new company, initially known as Chesapeake Eye Care Company. The doctors partnered with Centre Partners to bring in the capital investment foundation for the new business. Kirkland & Ellis was Gryphon’s legal advisor and William Blair & company was financial advisor to Gryphon. Gryphon has an extensive track record of successfully building businesses in health care, where its investments include Heartland Veterinary Partners, Ob Hospitalist Group and Water’s Edge Dermatology, among others.