Shearer’s legacy of quality food started in the early 1900s, when William Shearer opened a meat market in Canton, Ohio. His sons, Nelson and Howard, joined Shearer’s Market and took over when he retired. In the 1950s, Nelson’s son, Jack, began running the grocery with his wife, Rosemary.
In 1974, Jack and Rosemary bought a snack food distributorship, and their sons Bob and Tom joined the growing family business.
The Shearer's wanted to offer a complete line of snacks, but couldn’t find products that met their high standards. In 1979, the family launched its own snack food manufacturing operation to ensure their high standards of quality would be met. In a small rental facility on Harrison Avenue in Canton, they began hand-cooking kettle potato chips and selling them under the “Kettle-Cook’d” label. And with those chips, Shearer Perfection was born.
Era of Expansion
As the brand’s reputation spread, Shearer’s Snacks outgrew that initial small facility. In 1982, the family purchased a 20,000 square foot building on 10 acres in Brewster, Ohio. Operations expanded with six kettles and a peanut roaster.
Market demand surpassed manufacturing capabilities, prompting continued expansion. Plant size increased to 52,000 square feet in 1991, and doubled again in 1998, adding production capacity for tortilla chips and cheese curls.
Acquisitions Fuel Growth
Shearer’s Snacks grew beyond Ohio’s borders in 2007, with the purchase of a snack food plant in Lubbock, Texas, to produce kettle chips and extruded products.
Shearer’s Snacks' 2010 acquisition of Snack Alliance, a manufacturer of branded and private label snacks, transformed the company into a national snack supplier with manufacturing facilities in Bristol, Virginia and Hermiston, Oregon. That year, Shearer’s Snacks also opened the Millennium Manufacturing Facility in Massillon, Ohio – the first snack manufacturing plant in the world to achieve the highest sustainability award for environmental responsibility.
Independent pension provider, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), and Chicago-based private equity firm, Wind Point Partners, purchased Shearer’s Snacks in 2012 and appointed C.J. Fraleigh as chairman and CEO. In 2015, OTPP purchased the majority of shares that were held by Wind Point Partners, making OTPP Shearer’s Snacks’ largest shareholder, followed by Shearer’s Management and then by Wind Point, who retains a reduced ownership position. This changing ownership structure helps set Shearer’s Snacks up for a new phase of long-term stability and growth as it moves toward the future.
Today, Shearer’s Snacks is seeing a great amount of growth in private label business. That growth was fueled by the 2014 acquisition of the Lance Private Brands business from Snyder’s-Lance, which included plants in Burlington, Iowa and Guelph, Ontario in Canada. Shearer’s Snacks also acquired the assets of the Medallion Foods business from Omaha-based ConAgra Foods in 2014.
To learn more about our business history, contact us.