Barrel O’ Fun, the fast-growing Minnesota maker of salty snacks from corn chips to popcorn, is being spun off and sold, an official for the family-owned company said Thursday.
The buyer is Shearer’s Foods, which is based in northeast Ohio and also makes salty snacks along with cookies and crackers, said Fred Sailer, spokesman for Barrel O’ Fun’s parent company, KLN Family Brands in Perham, Minn.
KLN also owns Tuffy’s Pet Foods, Kenny’s Candy and Nutheads Chocolate Factory. Those brands are not part of the deal, and KLN has no intention of selling them, Sailer said.
The transaction between the two privately held companies must clear government regulatory hurdles and should be complete in the next couple of months. Terms were not disclosed.
Barrel O’ Fun “is attractive to many investment companies,” Sailer said. “There were offers on almost a daily basis.”
Sailer said this suitor won out after several months of negotiations because “we seem to fit so well together” in terms of where the two companies’ production facilities are located and in other ways.
The deal calls for Barrel O’ Fun to sell its facilities in Perham, Phoenix and Waterford in northwestern Pennsylvania, locations that give Shearer’s wider distribution coverage in the U.S., Sailer said.
As far as product lines, Sailer added, “We make some that they don’t, and they make some we don’t.”
Monty Pooley, Shearer’s chief commercial officer, described Barrel O’ Fun as “extraordinarily attractive,” and his company has no intention to fiddle with the Minnesota company’s brand recognition.
“Regional brands are extremely important,” Pooley said. “We have a lot of respect and we know the quality and the value of the brand.”
Sailer said he expects to see no decline in Barrel O’ Fun’s workforce, noting the company has been challenged to hire all the employees it needs, particularly in production. There are roughly 740 employees in Perham, 345 in Phoenix and 200 in Waterford, he said.
“It was important that our employees would be taken of,” Sailer said, adding that the two company’s benefits packages are “very similar.”
Barrel O’ Fun was started in 1973 by Darrell “Tuffy” Nelson and son Kenny Nelson. In 2005, Kenny’s son, Charlie, joined KLN.