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Even without the Bit-O-Honey transaction, sales were up 15 percent during the company’s most recent fiscal year, said Keller, a former Dairy Queen chief marketing officer who took Pearson’s helm after the Brynwood deal. “Brynwood’s investments are leading to growth at Pearson,” he said.
Brynwood, which has other candy industry holdings, bought Pearson from Larry Hassler, the company’s owner since 1985.
At the time of the sale, Brynwood said it would use Pearson for future candy acquisitions, and that’s what happened with the purchase of Bit-O-Honey, a famous but faded brand.
The chewy almond-flavored candy is made in Bloomington, Ill. But Pearson is angling to move production to St. Paul, which would create about 40 new jobs here.
The West 7th Street plant has room for another production line.
Pearson has applied to the state’s Minnesota Investment Fund for a forgivable loan to help pay for the Bit-O-Honey move. Keller said the company recently got preliminary approval.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, which administers the investment fund, didn’t return calls.
Keller seems optimistic. And he said more deals are possible. “We need to continue to grow where the opportunities present themselves.”
Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003