1. Weatherhead Centurions
Shearer’s Foods Inc.
Year founded: 1974
Sales growth: 219.98%
CEO: C.J. Fraleigh
Shearer’s Foods manufactures/distributes Shearer’s Award-Winning Snacks and produces salted snacks for private label and co-pack customers.
Shearer’s Foods’ success speaks for itself. In the past five years alone, the Massillon-based snack-food maker has doubled its production, sales, facilities, product offerings and associates. “Shearer perfection in every bag” is the company’s motto, and the product quality epitomized by that phrase has always been, and continues to be, the No. 1 reason for Shearer’s remarkable run of success.
Widely known for manufacturing and distributing its award-winning snack-food products, Shearer’s also manufactures private-label products for select retail-snack customers. The company has amassed numerous awards, not just for its business success and growth, but also for business leadership, manufacturing excellence, sustainability, customer service, new products and community service.
From its humble beginnings in 1974 when Jack and Rosemary Shearer, third-generation owners of Shearer’s Market in Canton, bought a snack-food distributorship, Shearer’s has grown dramatically, both organically and via acquisitions, to become the nation’s leading producer of kettle-cooked potato chips. In 2010, Shearer’s acquired Snack Alliance Inc., one of the fastest-growing producers of branded, contract pack and private-label snacks in North America. That acquisition positioned Shearer’s to serve private-label and contract manufacturing partners nationally with five manufacturing locations.
As Shearer’s has expanded its products and facilities, it has added staff to keep up with that growth. The company currently employs 1,900 — an increase of 300 in just two years — and it continues to hire new workers to maintain its extraordinary success.
In 2011, responding to market demands and new product development opportunities, Shearer’s completed construction of its Millennium Manufacturing Facility, the world’s first LEED Platinum-certified snack-food manufacturing plant. That facility’s development is a clearcut indicator of Shearer’s focus on the future of its industry and on minimizing its environmental impact on the communities in which it operates.
Shearer’s also addresses environmental responsibility via its Energy Management Program, an initiative aimed at producing great snack products while also helping preserve natural resources for future generations. And the company exercises great care in watching over the welfare of its employees, conducting on-site clinics and health screenings to monitor associates’ blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and body mass index.
In the summer of 2012, Shearer’s began moving into its new corporate headquarters in downtown Massillon. The main impetus for the move was to bring together 150 office workers who had previously been housed at three different company facilities and to benefit from the new energy and efficiencies that would inevitably result from having all of those employes working together under one roof. The new headquarters is in the office building formerly known as Grand Mill Centre. Shearer’s gutted and renovated the four-floor, 40,000-square-foot building, which will now house offices for Shearer’s employees in purchasing, sourcing, supply chain, operations, scheduling, transportation, product development, marketing, sales, customer service, finance, information technology and human resources, as well as the company’s executive team.
Also this past summer, Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity investment firm specializing in middle-market leveraged buyouts, announced it had signed an agreement to acquire Shearer’s Foods. Wind Point partnered with C.J. Fraleigh, who joined Shearer’s as chairman and CEO. Fraleigh, who most recently served as CEO of Sara Lee-North America, has 25 years of experience in consumer products.
“I’m very excited to be joining the team at Shearer’s,” Fraleigh said. “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. 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 Partners’ acquisition of Shearer’s was completed in November 2012.
How to reach: Shearer’s Foods Inc., (330) 767-3426 or www.shearers.com