Shearer Foods

Shearer’s Foods — known for its kettle-cooked potato chips — is slated to be sold to a private-equity investment firm. And former Sara Lee ceo C.J. Fraleigh is poised to take the reins.

Chicago-based Wind Point Partners on Tuesday announced that it reached agreement to buy the company, which is the largest producer of private label salty snacks in North America.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the move is expected to close in October.

Brewster, Ohio-based Shearer’s is the largest producer of kettle-cooked potato chips in the world. As part of the deal, former Sara Lee ceo C.J. Fraleigh will become the chairman and ceo of Shearer’s Foods.

“With the growth of private label brands, and the trend toward outsourcing for branded food companies, Shearer’s is well-positioned to continue its historical growth trajectory,” Fraleigh said in a news release issued by Wind Point. “I look forward to working with the company’s 1,850 employees to execute on growth opportunities we’ve identified, and continue providing Shearer’s customers with excellent service and consistently high quality products.”

Wind Point Managing Director Mark Burgett said in the release that the deal provided opportunity to drive growth at Shearer’s.

“We are confident that we will create value through initiatives such as introducing a proactive strategic selling effort, leveraging Shearer’s proven ability to innovate and implementing continuous improvement programs,” he said.

Shearer’s Foods has twice been named the Snack Manufacturer of the Year in the past decade by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, a sister publication of Candy Industry focusing on the snack and bakery industries. In a 2011 profile of Shearer’s, the magazine detailed the company’s start in 1974 when Bob Shearer, his parents Jack and Rosemary, and his brother Tom bought a one-truck Wise potato chip distributor to complement their local grocery store.

What began in a 2,500-sq.-ft. building making 125 pounds of chips an hour has blossomed since then. The 2011 profile said the company produced more than 40,000 pounds of product an hour, and its headquarters in Brewster spans 200,000 sq. ft. on 77 acres of land.

“As a company, we’re seeing positive growth in organic,” Bob Shearer said in the profile. “The better-for-you category is gaining momentum.

Bob Shearer is the chairman and ceo of Shearer’s. His future role after the acquisition was not disclosed by Wind Point.

This article was written by Chris Freeman, editor of PLBuyer, a sister publication of Candy Industry.