Charlee Bear Products acquires dog food maker

Wixon president owns St. Francis firm

Last updated on September 3rd, 2021 at 01:29 pm

St. Francis-based Charlee Bear Products, which manufactures dog treats, has acquired New York-based canned pet food company Hound & Gatos Pet Foods Corp. from sole proprietor Will Post for $1.65 million. The transaction closed May 21.

Hound & Gatos’ dog and cat foods are billed as a “Paleolithic diet” for pets, containing “the same nutrients their Paleolithic ancestors thrived on” including real meat, vitamins and minerals. The dietary formulation piggybacks on a popular human trend toward Paleo diets, which purport to exclude foods the body doesn’t digest as easily, such as grains, dairy, refined sugar, salt, potatoes and highly processed foods.

Charlee Bear is owned by Peter Gottsacker, who is also president and owner of St. Francis-based food seasoning and flavor manufacturer Wixon Inc. The company, which shares space with Wixon, makes Charlee Bear Original and Bear Crunch Dog Treats, which are low calorie and are designed not to leave residue in the dog owner’s pocket. The company sells about 9 million bags of treats per year, which are contract manufactured in Mequon. It has five full-time employees, and about $6 million in annual revenue, said Patrick McGarry, general manager at Charlee Bear and chief financial officer at Wixon.

“Our interest in acquiring Hound & Gatos is the health of the pet,” McGarry said. “This is an extremely healthy line of food for both dogs and cats. It’s in a higher price point category, but we thought it was a good time to expand into all-natural food and this was a good way to dip our toe in that water.”

McGarry said the acquisition also allows Charlee Bear to offer additional products to its independent pet retail customers.

“At Charlee Bear, our mission is to improve the health and nutrition of pets through simple, natural ingredients, one small bite at a time,” Gottsacker said in the announcement of the transaction. “Our passion for quality pet products and ingredients was a natural fit with Hound & Gatos, and we are pleased to welcome this brand into the Charlee Bear Products family.”

Hound & Gatos is now based in Wisconsin, and its food will continue to be contract manufactured in Mitchell, South Dakota. Charlee Bear plans to hire three new employees in sales and management, and begin introducing line extensions such as kibble food and Paleolithic treats as a result of the acquisition, McGarry said.

Further Reading: can dogs have marshmallows and other treats?

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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