PE-backed Gold Star Foods acquires A&R Wholesale Distributors

Gold Star Foods, a portfolio company of Castle Harlan Inc, has acquired A&R Wholesale Distributors, a supplier of fresh and healthy foods to schools in Southern California. No financial terms were disclosed.


New York, June 13, 2017 – Castle Harlan, Inc., the New York private equity investment firm, announced today that its portfolio company, Gold Star Foods, has acquired A&R Wholesale Distributors. This is the third acquisition made by Gold Star under Castle Harlan’s ownership. Gold Star is the preeminent company to help states and local school districts across the country comply with complex state and federal regulations covering government funding and nutritional content requirements for school meal programs. A&R has been supplying fresh and healthy foods to schools in Southern California for more than 30 years.

David B. Pittaway, Senior Managing Director of Castle Harlan, said, “Like Gold Star, A&R is experienced in dealing with the complexities of the USDA Child Nutrition Program and helps to create meals that adhere to USDA nutritional standards and commodity guidelines. The combination of Gold Star and A&R will allow customers to benefit from access to new product categories, an increased number of SKUs, and higher service levels.”

The acquisition price was not disclosed. A&R will continue to be led by Jeff Kuriel and will operate from its facility in Anaheim until the operation transitions to Gold Star’s Ontario headquarters. At that time, Mr. Kuriel will join Gold Star’s leadership team. Gold Star said that it would honor all of A&R’s contracts.

Gold Star Foods is a leading distributor of approved foods for school meals in the Southwestern United States. Its customers include the Los Angeles Unified School District, California’s largest and the nation’s second-largest school district, among others. In addition to California, Gold Star Foods also serves a number of schools in Arizona and Nevada.
Sean Leer, CEO of Gold Star Foods, and Mr. Kuriel, CEO of A&R, jointly wrote to customers of the two companies that the integration of the businesses will be seamless and will take “the best of both A&R and Gold Star to provide you with a new gold standard in products and services.”

Gold Star continues to expand, both organically and through acquisitions, towards becoming the leading value-added services provider dedicated to school nutrition programs across the country. Prior to the A&R acquisition, Castle Harlan had invested more than $40 million in Gold Star Foods during the first quarter of 2017, bringing its total investment to more than $60 million over the past year, to support the growth of Gold Star Foods. A portion of this capital was used to fund the acquisition of Colyar Technology Solutions, a leading designer, developer and marketer of food distribution and compliance management software, as well as the construction of a 188,000-square-foot food distribution center in Dixon, CA. The Dixon, CA warehouse supports Gold Star’s expansion in Northern California.

The combination of Gold Star Foods and Colyar Technology Solutions provides a unique platform that leverages Gold Star Foods’ deep knowledge and industry leadership around nutritional content in school meal programs with Colyar Technology Solutions’ leading technical expertise in developing software products for regulatory compliance management.

“The acquisition of Colyar furthered Gold Star’s strategic shift into providing technology-enabled national school nutrition solutions to both states and local school districts” said Patrick Zyla, Vice President of Castle Harlan. “Colyar’s web-based tools help to simplify the complex regulatory burdens faced by food providers in lunchrooms across the nation. Colyar assists in managing federal dollars by providing a platform to manage the application and administration of claims to the USDA, providing a link among local school districts, states and the USDA.”

More than half of U.S. states currently use Colyar Technology Solutions’ cloud-based solutions to properly track and document government funding allocations for government food distribution programs. With Gold Star Foods’ knowledge of nutritional content, Colyar Technology Solutions has begun developing a new suite of technology-enabled solutions to help states and local school districts document and comply with nutritional content standards, an eligibility requirement for certain government funding. Gold Star Foods is uniquely positioned to offer this service.

About Castle Harlan
Castle Harlan, founded in 1987, has invested in controlling interests in and the development of middle-market companies in North America, Australia and Europe. Its team of senior investment professionals completed over 50 acquisitions since its inception, with a total value in excess of $11 billion. The firm traces its roots to the start of the institutionalized private equity business in the late 1960s. Additional information about Castle Harlan is at