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Rich Products, hungry for acquisitions, makes three deals

Rich Products, the $4 billion food products company based in Buffalo, is getting even bigger.

Rich Products is buying:

• Two manufacturing plants from TreeHouse Foods that specialize in baked artisan breads and rolls, and fully finished cakes for in-store retail bakeries and food service.

• Rizzuto Foods, a Spokane, Wash.-based maker of pizza products and gluten-free crusts.

• Morey's Seafood International, a seafood products company based in Minnesota.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. The acquisitions will increase Rich Products' presence in different food categories and bolster its corporate operations, which are headquartered on Niagara Street.

"The mandate from the Rich family is to be successful over the long haul, do business with good people of upstanding character, and create opportunities for our customers and create opportunities for growth for our associates," said Richard Ferranti, Rich Products' CEO.

Ferranti expects the benefits of the three deals to flow back to Buffalo. "A lot of the people here will be working on all of those acquisitions, both from an integration perspective and a sales and marketing perspective, from the standpoint of setting up the IT and infrastructure."

Rich Products and its subsidiaries have about 1,400 employees in Western New York.

TreeHouse is a publicly traded company based in Illinois, with more than 40 production facilities across the United States, Canada and Italy. The two plants Rich Products is buying are in Lodi, Calif., and Fridley, Minn., and combined have more than 400 employees. The deal is expected to close April 10.

Ferranti said the two plants, which support TreeHouse's Cottage Bakeries product line, weren't a strategic fit for TreeHouse but were a good match for Rich Products. And the plants have a track record of innovation, Ferranti said.

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The two facilities will allow Rich Products to provide its customers with greater in-demand product options, and will enhance its own dessert and bakery business units.

In the other two deals, Rich Products is buying companies, not certain manufacturing operations.

Rizzuto Foods traces its roots to 1957. Since adopting the Rizzuto name in 1991, the company has produced more than 1 billion pizza crusts. Rizzuto has about 100 employees. The deal builds on acquisitions Rich Products made in 2012 and 2018 in its pizza products lineup. "Pizza's an important category for us," Ferranti said.

Morey Seafood International was founded in 1937. The company has a processing center in Motley, Minn., and a distribution center in Plymouth, Minn. About 200 employees will join Rich Products from Morey.

Rich Products is already prominent in seafood products with its SeaPak brand. Morey brings expertise in other types of seafood, including salmon and smoked fish.

"With all of these acquisitions, there's something we can learn from all of them, big or small," Ferranti said. "It's an opportunity to deepen the talent pool with the people we bring on board."

Ferranti said there is more to the deals than simply completing a purchase. "It's really important to us that those people feel welcome, that we're transparent with them, but that they know these are growth acquisitions," he said. "This is not about consolidation. This is not about anything in that vein. This is about, how do we take these products, the capabilities of these people, and drive and create greater value for our customers?"

Rich Products aims to grow to $6 billion in revenues by 2025. "We think a significant part of our growth is going to come through acquisitions," Ferranti said.

Ferranti was promoted to CEO in January. His predecessor, William Gisel Jr., shifted into the role of executive vice chair of Rich Holdings, the holding company for all Rich family business enterprises.

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