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Wisconsin’s Gehl Foods, A Producer Of Aseptic Dairy Products, Acquired By Wind Point Partners

Gehl Foods, a producer of aseptic dairy products such as cheese sauces, announced today that it has been acquired by Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based investment firm.

Gehl Foods, which reported sales of almost $250 million last year, produces shelf-stable, aseptic dairy products such as cheese sauces, puddings, and nutritional and protein beverages, including smoothies and coffee-related products. Over 1 million people consume Gehl cheese sauces each day in more than 200,000 movie theaters, concession stands, convenience stores and restaurants in the US.

Katherine Gehl, who returned to the company full-time in 2007 and succeeded her father, John, and her brother, Andy, as president and CEO in 2011, is handing over management of the enterprise to a new leader. Food industry veteran Eric Beringause, who was previously CEO of Sturm Foods, based in Manawa, WI, becomes the chief executive, effective immediately.

Gehl, who will continue as a member of the board of directors, noted that Wind Point’s interest in the family-owned business was the result of an impressive growth record under the family’s leadership and a transformation in operations and marketing that has set the stage for future growth.

Since 2007, Gehl Foods has grown by every key measure, Gehl said.
Sales increased almost 80 percent, and the company added more than 100 employees. Investments in new technologies exceeded $100 million, and both product innovation and the new business pipeline have reached all-time highs. Most important, Gehl Foods is well into its transition to a world-class manufacturing culture.

“Wind Point’s investment in Gehl Foods reflects our belief in the company’s continued growth potential following the outstanding track record and significant investments in technology and people under Katherine Gehl’s leadership,” said David Stott, principal at Wind Point Partners. “We plan to continue to invest in the operations in both Germantown and West Bend, and we look forward to working with the entire team at Gehl Foods.”

“With its competitiveness substantially improved, Gehl Foods has tremendous prospects,” Gehl said. “To maximize its potential, the company must accelerate its growth.”

“I’m very excited to be joining the team at Gehl Foods,” Beringause said.
“Under the leadership of previous CEO Katherine Gehl and her team, Gehl Foods has an exceptional track record of food safety and manufacturing high quality products.

“The facilities in Germantown and West Bend have been well-invested and maintained and serve as a strong foundation for continued success,” Beringause said.”

Gehl Foods was founded by J.P. Gehl, who began his business with an idea for improving the quality of local butter. His grandson led the company for almost 50 years and transitioned the company from a traditional local dairy with only 14 employees into a nationwide leader in low-acid aseptic processing.

Today, Gehl Foods employs over 330 people at its three Germantown facilities and its West Bend bottle-making operation. All four facilities are included in the sale.

Wind Point Partners is a private equity investment firm that has raised $2.8 billion in commitments since 1984.