GREENWICH, CONN. — Brynwood Partners VI L.P. has acquired Pearson Candy Co., a St. Paul, Minn.-based maker of Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll, Pearson’s Mint Patties, Pearson’s Nut Goodies and Pearson’s Bun brands. The company previously was owned by Larry Hassler.
With the acquisition, Brynwood has named Michael Keller, former chief marketing officer at International Dairy Queen, as president and chief executive officer. Mr. Keller will take over for Mr. Hassler, and Mr. Hassler will stay with the company in a consulting position during the transition period.
“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of Pearson Candy Co., and we are excited to attract an executive of Michael Keller’s caliber to this opportunity,” said Henk Hartong III, chairman of Pearson Candy Co. and senior managing partner of Brynwood VI. “Pearson is an iconic confectionery business and is a terrific addition to Brynwood VI’s portfolio. We expect Pearson to become a great platform for additional acquisitions in the candy sector. We are grateful to have had the chance to work with Larry Hassler and look forward to continuing to grow the great company he has built.”
In addition to Pearson Candy, Brynwood Partners has an investment in DeMet’s Candy Co. and owns Balance Bar Co., which was recently acquired from Kraft Foods Inc. Other companies in which Brynwood once invested include Lincoln Snacks Co., Richelieu Foods, Inc. and Stella D’oro Biscuit Co., Inc.
“Having owned and operated Pearson since 1985, I am confident that I am leaving the company in good hands with Brynwood VI,” Mr. Hassler said. “Given Brynwood Partners’ experience in the food space, I am confident that Brynwood will have great success in enhancing the value of the organization.”
Pearson Candy Co. has been managed by a number of different companies since its founding in 1909, including an ownership stint by ITT/Continental Baking in the late 1960s until the late 1970s.