Castle Harlan acquires Gold Star Foods

Castle Harlan has acquired Gold Star Foods, Inc., a nutritional food distributor to K-12 schools in California, Arizona and Nevada, from Prospect Partners. Castle Harlan made the investment through its Fund V.

Press Release

Castle Harlan, Inc., the New York-based middle-market private equity firm, today announced the acquisition of Gold Star Foods, Inc., a leading nutritional food distributor to K-12 schools in California, Arizona and Nevada, by Castle Harlan Partners V. The seller was the Chicago private equity firm Prospect Partners.

Gold Star, based in Ontario, CA, serves 380 school districts comprised of more than 3,500 schools, enabling them to provide students nutritional meals through federal and state programs for breakfasts and lunches that include program-approved healthy ingredients. Gold Star’s proprietary software platform and expertise in USDA commodity tracking provides a valuable service to schools, which receive reimbursements from federal and state governments based on compliance with strict and increasingly complex regulatory standards. Gold Star purchases products from more than 600 food manufacturers and farms and sells over 6,000 products of fresh bread and produce, as well as refrigerated, frozen and dry menu items.

“Gold Star is a proven leader in the stable and moderately growing school food distribution market, and it promotes healthy nutritional meals to its customers,” said Bill Pruellage, Co-President of Castle Harlan. Gold Star has the scale to acquire smaller competitors in a fragmented market, as well as to expand into newer territories, such as Northern California and other Western states, additional product lines and new end-markets.”

Joyce Demonteverde Schnoedl, Vice President of Castle Harlan, said, “There are many trends favorable to the school food-service distribution industry, including increasing awareness of the importance of nutrition in school breakfasts and lunches, continued population growth and increasing federal funding for programs supporting better nutrition in school meals.” She added that the company has excellent management with deep experience in the school food distribution industry. The team will remain in place.

“Gold Star’s management team has an average of 25 years of industry experience,” Pruellage said. “Under the leadership of CEO Dan Madsen, the company has transitioned to a new state-of-the-art distribution facility and IT platform, completed and integrated a strategic acquisition and significantly expanded Gold Star’s business with many of its existing customers.”

About Castle Harlan
Castle Harlan, founded in 1987, invests in controlling interests in the buyout and development of middle market companies worldwide. The Castle Harlan team of 18 investment professionals has completed 54 acquisitions with a total transaction value in excess of $11 billion. Castle Harlan, along with its affiliates, has managed investment funds with equity commitments of over $6 billion. The firm traces its roots to the start of the institutionalized private-equity business in the late 1960s. Since 1999 Castle Harlan has invested in Australia and Southeast Asia with its affiliate CHAMP Private Equity in Sydney and Singapore.

Castle Harlan’s current portfolio of companies includes Shelf Drilling Holdings Ltd., the leading provider of shallow water jack up drilling rig services in Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East; Pretium Packaging LLC, one of the country’s leading manufacturers of custom-designed specialty plastic containers for the food, pharmaceutical, personal-care and household markets; and Baker & Taylor, the world’s largest distributor of books and entertainment products to libraries and retailers. For more information, visit