Gehl Foods acquired by Wind Point Partners

Germantown-based Gehl Foods Inc. has been acquired by Chicago private equity firm Wind Point Partners.

The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal. Gehl Foods has three Germantown facilities and a West Bend bottle-making operation. All four facilities and its 330 employees were included in the deal.

Gehl Foods, which manufactures aseptic dairy products including nacho cheese, pudding and smoothies, reported $250 million in sales in 2014. It was founded in 1896 by J.P. Gehl as a three-room creamery that made “renovated” butter. In the 1960s, it shifted to non-refrigerated, sterile dairy products.

Katherine Gehl rejoined the family company in 2007 and has led it as president and chief executive officer since 2011, succeeding her father, John, and her brother, Andy. Effective immediately, Katherine Gehl has been replaced by Eric Beringause, a food industry veteran who most recently served as CEO of Sturm Foods in Manawa. She will continue as a member of the board of directors.

“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.”

Gehl Foods has increased sales by 80 percent and added more than 100 jobs since 2007. During that time, the company has invested more than $100 million in new technologies and has increased product innovation and new business.

More than 1 million people nationally consume Gehl cheese sauces each day in more than 200,000 movie theaters, concession stands, convenience stores and restaurants.

“With its competitiveness substantially improved, Gehl Foods has tremendous prospects,” Gehl said. “To maximize its potential, the company must accelerate its growth. Wind Point has the capacity to deploy the technology and capital to take Gehl Foods to the next level.

“The move will allow Gehl Foods to respond even more effectively to customer needs and to strengthen its position in national markets. The move is also positive for our employees, because they will be able to take advantage of greater opportunities as the company advances in the marketplace.”

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