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Hoffmann Family makes bid to buy bankrupt Illinois dairy, ice cream chain

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 8:45 a.m. April 25, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Oberweis Dairy has stores in the Chicago area.
Oberweis Dairy has stores in the Chicago area.
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  • Charlotte–Lee–Collier
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The Hoffmann Family of Cos., a Naples-based business conglomerate and prolific buyer of businesses, has made a bid to purchase an Illinois dairy that filed for bankruptcy.

Oberweis Dairy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy April 13, with $4 million in debts to at least 20 creditors, court records show. The company, founded in 1927 and based in suburban Chicago, also announced plans to lay off some 127 people, according to a letter it sent to Illinois officials. 

Hoffmann executives say they are making the offer through their investment arm, Osprey Capital, and acknowledge “there may be a stalking horse bidder for Oberweis.” (A stalking horse is an entity that makes the initial offer in a bankruptcy proceeding.) 

“The Hoffmann family intends to make a competitive offer to buy the company and is confident they will deliver the highest bid, based on current due diligence,” the company says in a statement. Financial terms of the offer weren’t disclosed. 

The Chicago Sun-Times, in a Tuesday story, reported that a family-owned dairy and egg business, Dutch Farms in Pullman, Illinois, made a stalking horse bid to buy all operating assets of Oberweis. Financial terms of that offer weren’t disclosed, either. 

Oberweis Dairy, according to the Hoffmann statement, operates a dairy home delivery service across parts of the Midwest and Texas, a chain of corporate- and franchise-owned dairy and ice cream stores in the Chicago area, a distribution service to regional supermarkets and high-end fast-food hamburger restaurants named That Burger Joint.

The Sun-Times adds that Oberweis has about 1,100 employees, with a seasonal workforce that grows to 1,500 at its ice cream stores. The family of Illinois Republican state politician Jim D. Oberweis owns the dairy, the paper adds. 

The Hoffmann family has a history of investing in multigenerational, family-owned businesses and, the release states “was specifically drawn to invest in Oberweis because of its highly regarded history, brand and alignment with family values.”

“Our vision is all about quality, legacy and longevity — we’re not looking to buy and flip businesses,” Geoff Hoffmann, co-CEO of Hoffmann Family of Cos., says in the release. “The Oberweis name has been associated with delicious, premium quality products for decades. Notwithstanding its recent financial struggles, we see an opportunity to revive the company’s heritage of success. 

There’s also a dairy pull to the offer to buy Oberweis: The Hoffmann family’s dairy roots trace back to founder David Hoffmann’s early childhood growing up on a dairy farm in Washington, Missouri, where he would deliver milk before school.

The Hoffmann Family of Cos. consists of over 100 national brands, and employs 9,000 global employees with businesses in 30 countries and 250 locations worldwide. Industries the company has a presence in include aviation, agriculture, financial services, hospitality, business & professional services, industrial, manufacturing, marine, media & marketing, real estate and transportation. In recent years, the family has acquired more than 200 founder-led companies.



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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