Major St. Cloud Employer Appert’s Acquired by Sysco

Major St. Cloud Employer Appert’s Acquired by Sysco

Appert’s President Joe Omann said that Sysco plans to retain the company’s 300 workers, and being acquired by an industry leader will likely lead to additional growth in Minnesota.

Appert’s Foodservice, a St. Cloud-based food distributor that employs roughly 300 in Minnesota, is being sold to Houston, Texas-based distribution giant Sysco.

The two parties have signed a purchase agreement and are awaiting regulatory approval, Appert’s President Joe Omann, who declined to disclose the purchase price, told Twin Cities Business on Thursday. The deal is expected to close by December 31, he said.

Founded in 1935, Appert’s operates 157,000 square feet of production, storage, and distribution facilities, and it stocks more than 9,000 foodservice products from about 250 vendors. The family-owned business serves customers in the Upper Midwest, although it primarily distributes in Minnesota. It also operates a meat-processing facility and a retail store in St. Cloud, and it generates about $160 million in annual revenue, according to Omann.

Sysco, meanwhile, operates 185 distribution facilities and serves more than 400,000 customers. According to its website, the company has about 45,000 employees. For its fiscal year that ended June 30, Sysco reported record sales in excess of $42 billion.

Following the transaction, Appert’s 300 workers will retain their jobs, current pay, and comparable benefits, Omann said. Sysco will retain the Appert’s name “for the foreseeable future,” although it may eventually rebrand it, he added.

“For us to hook up with Sysco guarantees into the future that our branch and employee base will stay in place, and odds are we’ll also grow and add more jobs,” Omann said. “We’re hooking up with an industry leader with the financial wherewithal to invest in and grow the business.”

Omann said that the deal’s timing was driven in part by a desire to close the transaction before the end of the year, prior to tax increases expected to result from the looming “fiscal cliff.”

Appert’s is among St. Cloud’s 25 largest employers, according to John Kramer, CEO of the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation. He said that it’s unfortunate to “lose that local connection” when a family business is acquired by a large, out-of-state corporation.

Omann, however, described his company’s sale as a win-win—one that benefits Appert’s shareholders while also allowing all employees to retain their jobs and benefits. He contrasted the story to that of another major employer in the area, Verso Paper Corporation, whose Sartell mill, which had already been struggling, was permanently shuttered following an explosion and fire earlier this year.

St. Cloud, however, is also attracting new jobs: German farm equipment manufacturer Geringhoff is investing $20 million to establish a factory in the city, where it expects to employ 100 people. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said in September that Geringhoff plans to have the factory up and running by May.