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Next piece of the puzzle: Buffalo Games' founders sell business

Paul Dedrick was a dairy farmer in Delevan before making an unlikely career change: launching a jigsaw puzzle and board game company in 1986 with his wife, Eden.

Buffalo Games has boomed since then. The company now sells 7 million puzzles a year, making it No. 1 in the United States and Canada, and sells about 3 million games annually.

Now Buffalo Games' founders have reached a milestone. The Dedricks sold the business to a private equity firm, Mason Wells, and members of Buffalo Games' senior management team, including president Nagendra Raina. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"What this change means is further accelerated growth," Raina said. The company has set a goal of doubling its revenues over the next four to five years "and that's the path we're on."

Buffalo Games has about 75 employees. Raina said he expects that figure to grow, though there is not a specific target. "I'd be surprised if we don't have a 10 to 15 percent growth (in jobs) in the next 24 months," he said.

Raina, formerly with Fisher-Price, joined Buffalo Games as its general manager in 2013, and was named president two years later. He had already become a partner in the business with the Dedricks prior to the sale, and had taken on a prominent role in overseeing the business.

"On a day-to-day basis, not much has changed," Raina said of the ownership change. "I was leading the business in the previous state. I'm leading the business in the current state."

And now the ownership includes a private equity firm that focuses on acquiring family owned businesses, he said. "Although we were a family-based business, we were very professionally run. This just further accelerates our growth, obviously, and attracts more talent to the area, as well."

By the time Raina arrived at Buffalo Games a few years ago, the company had established important relationships with retailers like Target, Walmart and Toys R Us. In a July interview with The Buffalo News, Raina described being part of a new leadership team determined to build on that foundation.

Nagendra Raina, president of Buffalo Games, was part of a buyout of the company. (provided photo)

"When the new management team came in, we essentially went from being a family-owned and family-driven business, to being a professionally managed and driven business with goals and objectives that just had to be met," he said. "It was a different mindset that was needed to encourage growth and, frankly, to exploit what the platform was.

"I knew coming in that there was something special about the company," Raina said. "Some tweaks had to be made, fine-tuned, to bring it to scale."

Buffalo Games' operations, on James E. Casey Drive, are a hub of production and creativity, where ideas for new games and puzzles come to life. The company generates more than $100 million in annual revenues.

Mason Wells is a 20-year-old private equity firm based in Milwaukee, Wisc., with about $1 billion in assets under management. Its managing director, Ben Holbrook, praised Buffalo Games' "world-class management team."

"Nagendra and his team have built a powerful innovation platform that was founded over 30 years ago by Paul and Eden Dedrick," Holbrook said in a statement. "The company's dynamic culture and the strong relationships it has forged with licensors, retailers and suppliers, are key aspects of the company's success and future growth opportunities."

Mason Wells also owns MGS Manufacturing Group, which operated an injection molding facility in Cheektowaga that closed last year.

Paul Dedrick, shown in 2011. (News file photo)

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