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Wind Point Partners, Chicago, is collaborating with C.J. Fraleigh, who will join Shearer’s as chairman and CEO. Fraleigh was most recently CEO of Sara Lee North America and has 25 years experience in consumer products. Bob Shearer, 61, who founded Shearer’s in 1974 with his father, late mother and brother, Tom, will step down as CEO. His wife, Melissa, also 61, who has been serving as vice president of communications, will also step down, according to reports.
Bob Shearer says he isn’t sure if his brother, Tom, who is in management at Shearer’s, will stay on. No other Shearer family members are involved in the food business, which is the largest producer of private-label salty snacks in North America and the largest producer of kettle-cooked potato chips in the world, according to the company.
“I’m just looking forward to doing some other things,” says Shearer, adding that he has interest in other nonfood companies, though he declined to name them. The agreement prohibits him from working in the salty-food business. “I’ll miss the people and our customers. We have great customers and great people.”
The company started in 1974, when Shearer’s late parents decided to take a chance on a new career from a grocery store business and become a Wise potato chip distributor. Eventually, the family decided it could make its own potato chips, and the Shearer’s brand was born.