Shearer’s Foods co-founder into new food business

by Laurie Gorton
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AKRON, OHIO — Or Derv Foods L.L.C., a 51-year-old maker of frozen appetizers, is the newest project for Bob Shearer, co-founder and former owner of Shearer’s Foods, a large producer of branded and private label potato and tortilla chips. This summer, his investment group, Bob Shearer Akron L.L.C., took a 40% ownership position in Or Derv.

The frozen appetizer company produces frozen sauerkraut balls — its original product — along with falafel, calamari, lobster bites and similar items, including sauces and dressings. It sells these under its own brand and manufactures them for private-label customers.

Or Derv’s other 60% is owned by Keith A. Kropp, the company’s current chief executive officer. He invested in it in 2004 and expanded its product line. An example of Or Derv’s creative appetizer line is its wonton popper made with cream cheese and diced jalapeños wrapped in a wonton skin instead of the traditional jalapeño pepper.

In recent years, Or Derv’s private label business has expanded significantly, doubling during each of the past two years.

The new investment will help the company move forward with plans for a new plant, Mr. Shearer told Crain’s Cleveland Business. Construction should start next month on a 16,000-square-foot building with an estimated cost of about $2 million.

Mr. Shearer also continues his active consulting business, Shearer’s Solutions.

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