CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, US — Wind Point Partners, a Chicago, Illinois, US-based private equity firm, plans to merge two of its portfolio companies — Hearthside Food Solutions and Ryt-way Industries. The merger, which will take effect in late May, will create a contract food manufacturer in North America with more than US$1 billion in sales and 19 manufacturing facilities across seven states.

Wind Point acquired Downers Grove, Illinois, US-based Hearthside in April 2009 and Ryt-way, Lakeville, Minnesota, US, in August 2008. Both companies provide contract manufacturing services to some of the nation’s largest food and consumer packaged goods companies in North America. During Wind Point’s ownership, Hearthside and Ryt-way each completed three acquisitions that further diversified their customer base and product portfolio.

Rich Scalise, CEO of Hearthside Food Solutions, will become CEO for the combined business. “Hearthside and Ryt-way have a complementary customer base and supply chain capabilities,” he said. “The combined company will be not only significantly larger but also able to deliver a wider array of services.”

Merging the two businesses will create “a one-stop shop for contract manufacturing,” added David Finch, CEO of Ryt-way.

Last week, St. Louis, Missouri, US-based Post Holdings, Inc,, signed a definitive agreement to acquire Hearthside’s branded and private label cereal and granola business for US$158 million. The transaction does not include Hearthside’s bars, cookies, crackers and snacks operations.