Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, announced plans to merge two of its portfolio companies—Hearthside Food Solutions and Ryt-way Industries. The merger, which will take effect in late May, will create the leading contract food manufacturer in North America, with more than $1 billion in sales and 19 manufacturing facilities across seven states.

Wind Point acquired Hearthside in April 2009 and Ryt-way in August 2008. Both companies provide contract manufacturing services to leading food and consumer packaged goods companies in North America. During Wind Point’s ownership, Hearthside and Ryt-way each completed three acquisitions that further diversified each company’s customer base and product portfolio.

Rich Scalise, chief executive officer of Hearthside Food Solutions, will assume the role of CEO for the combined business. Rich is a 35-year veteran of the food industry who most recently served as president of Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, a division of Ralcorp Holdings, Inc.