Guenther buys McDonald’s bun supplier in Canada

by Josh Sosland
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SAN ANTONIO — C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc., a food ingredient company with flour milling roots dating to 1851, has acquired three baking companies based in Canada. Two of the companies are suppliers of McDonald’s buns and/or English muffins in Canada.

Guenther announced it has acquired Golden West Baking Co., Gizella Pastry Ltd. and Les Boulangeries Rene, Inc. The first two companies are based in Vancouver, B.C. and the third in Montreal.

Golden West and Les Boulangeries Rene bake buns, rolls and English muffins for the quick serve, food service and retail grocery channels. Gizella bakes frozen desserts such as cheesecake, layer cake, brownies and bars. Rene Fluri was the majority owner of the businesses.

Until the last several years, Guenther principally was involved in the sale of flour and other flour-based ingredients. Under the Pioneer, White Wings and Morrison’s brands, the company manufactures a wide range of mixes. Under the Sun-Bird brand, Guenther sells seasonings, soup mixes, liquid marinades and meal kits. Its Williams business makes spice-based mixes.

More recently, Guenther has expanded into baking and other retail food products, including frozen biscuits and rolls in the Southeast. In 2005 the company acquired three baking plants in the United Kingdom and Belgium from Golden West & Trousdale, establishing Guenther Bakeries Ltd. The bakeries supply buns and English muffins to McDonald’s.

In 2012, the company acquired Pizza Blends, Inc., a supplier of frozen and dry mix pizza crusts and other blended flour-based products.

“Rene, his management team, and employees have built an impressive array of businesses that service many of the same customers that we supply today, but with an expanded geographical reach into Canada,” said Dale W. Tremblay, president and chief executive officer of Guenther. “The product capabilities are also very complementary to both our European bakery business as well as our U.S. frozen dough and baked goods businesses.”

Mr. Fluri, a fourth generation baker of Swiss descent, began his career in 1958 when he joined Gizella in Vancouver. The business was a retail pastry shop at the time. After acquiring the business Mr. Fluri expanded into the wholesale sector in 1967. He was approached by McDonald’s in 1982 to consider building a dedicated bun plant for western Canada, and in 1984 opened Golden West Bakery, a 40,000-square-foot baking plant. Two years later he added English muffin production capacity at the plant. Additional significant capital expansions and modernizations were completed over the last 15 years.

Mr. Fluri acquired Les Boulangeries Rene in 2003. The bakery supplies McDonald’s restaurants in eastern Canada while also supplying customers in the central United States.

“The sale of the business to C.H. Guenther & Son allows me to spend more time with family and enjoy some of the other important activities I have going on here in Vancouver and in Switzerland,” he said. “C.H.G. has a great 163-plus year history servicing customers and consumers alike, and as with our Canadian businesses, has created a very family-oriented culture for all employees.”
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