Land O'Frost buys Wellshire Farms, of Swedesboro

Land O’ Frost said Tuesday that it had purchased Wellshire Farms, a Swedesboro company that sells sausages, bacon, and other meat products in Whole Foods stores in the United States and Canada.

The price was not disclosed. A spokeswoman for Land O’ Frost declined to disclose revenues for the two family-owned companies. Land O’ Frost manufactures presliced meats and specialty hot dogs and sausages, and has products in Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Wegmans, and other supermarket chains.

Louis B. Colameco Jr., who left his family’s excavating business to found Wellshire in 1996, said in an interview that he decided to sell because Wellshire’s growth had slowed to single-digit percentages in the last two years from 12 percent three years ago and easy annual revenue gains of 20 percent when the company was younger.

“I can’t get our company to the $150 million mark. Let’s put it that way,” Colameco said. “I need somebody like these guys with expertise, that are a lot bigger than us. It’s not fair to the employees, because I’m holding back the brand and holding back the company.”

Wellshire has an exclusive agreement to sell Wellshire-branded products in Whole Foods. That agreement remains in place, Colameco said. The company sells additional brands through other chains, such as Mom’s Organic. Wellshire has an estimated 25 to 30 employees, all of whom are keeping their jobs, Colameco said.

Land O’ Frost, based in Munster, Ind., is a third-generation family-owned business founded in 1941, according to its website. The company has about 1,100 employees and operates three manufacturing facilities in Lansing, Ill.; Madisonville, Ky.; and Searcy, Ark.

Wellshire relies on a network of processors — including Kunzler & Co. in Lancaster; Godshall’s Quality Meats, based in Telford; and Berks Packing Co. in Reading — that manufacture natural and organic products to its specifications.

“We have no plans to shift production of any Wellshire products at this time. If anything, Land O’ Frost may look to this group, proven partners, to augment the production of Land O’ Frost manufacturing locations,” said David Van Eekeren, president and chief executive of Land O’Frost.

A key to getting back on a faster growth track is being more vertically integrated, Colameco said, but it seemed to be too much at his age.

“Am I going to go out and buy a meat plant at 59? I’d have to be out of my mind.”