Urbana gourmet food business Rothschild Farm sold to Chicago firm


A Chicago-based capital management firm has purchased a nationally known Urbana gourmet food manufacturer with plans to combine it with a similar Cincinnati company.

Glencoe Capital Management has acquired Robert Rothschild Farm, a local employer just outside Urbana known for its sauces, dips and other food products. Details of the agreement weren’t disclosed and it’s not immediately clear what impact the acquisition might have on the business or its employees.

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Andy Deister, CEO of Robert Rothschild Farm, didn’t return a call from the Springfield News-Sun seeking comment Thursday. But local officials said they are hopeful the acquisition could benefit Champaign County.

“When I’ve talked to Andy about it, he feels this is a very positive move,” said Marcia Bailey, executive director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, the economic development agency for Champaign County.

Chicago-based Glencoe said in a statement that Rothschild Farm will combine with Cincinnati-based Clearbrook Farms, a fruit-based food manufacturer Glencoe acquired in 2016. Officials from Clearbrook Farms referred questions back to a news release announcing the acquisition, while officials from Glencoe didn’t return calls Thursday.

Information from the Champaign County Auditor’s Office shows Rothschild’s property at 3143 E. U.S. 36 was recently acquired by Cincinnati Preserving Co. for close to $4 million.

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It’s not clear how a combined Rothschild and Clearbrook entity might look.

“Rothschild has strong brand awareness and a focus on innovative products that are recognized as best-in-class within the specialty food market,” David Evans, chairman and CEO of Glencoe said in a statement. “This is an investment in long-term growth. These two businesses are compelling specialty food providers with a strong future together, serving customers’ rapidly growing desire for all-natural, premium food products.”

Information from the Specialty Foods Association shows the industry hit sales of $127 billion last year, a roughly 15 percent increase between 2014 and 2016. That far outpaced overall retail food sales, which grew about 2.3 percent, according to information from the association.

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Robert Rothschild Farm sells products under various brands, including Robert Rothschild Farm, Game Day Gourmet, Made in Napa Valley and Vineyard Pantry. Its products include sauces, dip mixes, condiments and preserves.

The business began when Robert and Sara Rothschild moved onto a 170-acre Champaign County farm in 1976. Just a few years later, they began selling raspberry preserves and eventually began selling other specialty food products.

In Cincinnati, Clearbrook Farms produces preserves, butters, fillings and sauces.

“Like Rothschild, Clearbrook Farms has a long history as a category leader,” said Clearbrook President and CEO Andy Liscow in the news release. “Working together, we will benefit from and complement each other’s expertise and provide broader product capabilities to our customers.”

Local leaders made a significant investment several years ago to extend a sanitary sewer line to the business to allow for an expansion and keep the company in Champaign County.

The city of Urbana agreed to spend $160,00 from the city’s sanitary sewer fund to extend the sewer line to the business. The Champaign County commissioners also applied for a $160,000 Community Development Block Grant to pay for a portion of the project, while the company picked up the remaining $467,000 cost.

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In 2013, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 40 percent, five-year tax credit for Rothschild Farm, which had considered moving to Indiana. At that time, the company had about 55 workers and pledged to add $1.2 million in payroll and create 25 new full-time jobs. As part of the agreement for the tax credit, the state also required the company to maintain its operations at its current location just outside Urbana for at least eight years.

“The sewer line did what the intent was, by retaining the company and bringing sewer out and the ability to discharge to the city,” Bailey said. “For all intents and purposes, it’s been a positive project for us.”

Glencoe, founded in 1994, is a privately held company involved in various industries, including food products, specialty chemicals, plastics and packaging, and early childhood education, according to information from the news release.

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