Factory is an operating company with funds to invest. We acquire meaningful equity stakes in high potential food, beverage and animal health companies. Then we use our experience and assets to help them innovate and scale.

What We Do

Factory makes value. We make money for founders and investors. We’ve created over $3B in enterprise value in three CPG companies, and we’re focused on doing it again and again.

How We Do It

Factory has The Factory – an innovation center with scale-up capabilities. The Factory is where ideas are born and tested, and countless details of scaling up get figured out before they’re rolled out. There are lots of places to get money and advice. But only Factory has The Factory.

What Else We Do

Factory owns Cooler Innovation LLC – the first and only company that rents free-standing refrigeration to retailers. With Cooler Innovation, fresh and frozen products can now be displayed in the aisles where they belong. Factory knows more about free-standing retail coolers than anyone, because we’ve installed over 16,000 of them. Check it out at coolerinnovation.com

Contact Us

The Factory

Our Innovation and Scale-Up Center is located in Bethlehem, PA – one hour from Newark and Philadelphia International Airports.

Factory under Construction

Factory under Construction Factory under Construction
Factory Floor Plan

Our Team

Rich Thompson

Rich Thompson, Founder & Managing Partner

Rich created over $3 billion in enterprise value as Founder and CEO of American Italian Pasta Company, Meow Mix Company and Freshpet. He has deep operational experience across multiple disciplines, having built each of these organizations from scratch, including marketing and sales, manufacturing, supply chain and distribution, and innovation infrastructure, and he supervised the design and construction of 7 manufacturing facilities. With CPG start-ups, one home run can be a lifetime achievement. Rich has hit three of them.

Tim Pollak

Tim Pollak, Partner & Head of Strategy

Tim was a Board member and marketing consultant at American Italian Pasta, Meow Mix and Freshpet. He has 4 decades of CPG and brand-building experience, was Vice Chairman at two of the world’s largest global ad agencies, Y&R and Dentsu, and co-founded a data analytics company. Tim has served on the Boards of 8 manufacturing, marketing and education companies, spent 5 years as a CEO, and has done business in over 50 countries. He earned his BA at Dartmouth and MBA at Columbia University.

Keith Caldwell

Keith Caldwell, Operating Partner & General Manager

Prior to joining Factory, Keith worked for 8 years with Fortress Investment Group, where he was a Portfolio Manager responsible for the day-to-day operations of a real estate portfolio in the U.S. and Europe. In his time with the firm, he was responsible for the management of over $3B in invested capital and over $8B in total asset value. Keith earned his MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and holds a BS in Chemistry from UCSD.

Prateek Lal

Prateek Lal, Partner & Head of Packaging

Prateek is CEO of Adept Packaging, a global consultancy with more than 100 engineers in North America and Europe who focus on packaging innovation, cost engineering and digital technologies, including sustainability and IoT/connected packaging. Adept engineers are resident at Factory, where they merge consumer insight and advanced technology to provide our brand partners with leading edge packaging solutions.  Prateek has a BS in Packaging from Michigan State University.

Laura Kuykendall

Laura Kuykendall, Head of Marketing

Laura has more than 25 years of CPG leadership experience, managing large CPG portfolios and early stage brands. Companies that have benefitted from her marketing expertise include Shady Brook Farms, Champion, Snyder’s of Hanover, Annie’s Homegrown, Applegate Farms and Boulder Brands, where she led the gluten-free portfolio: Glutino, Udi’s and Evol. Laura is passionate about applying her knowledge of brand strategy and product innovation to health and wellness brands.  She holds a BA in Communication and an MBA from James Madison University.

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson, Head of Business Development

Mike has spent 40+ years in the grocery industry, the past 30 years on the sales and marketing agency side. He spent the last 16 years with Acosta/NS Sales, where he achieved 11 acquisitions and established NS Sales as the leading agency in the natural products industry. Mike retired as President of NS Sales in May and now heads business development at Factory, identifying   prospective brand partners and helping portfolio companies develop and execute growth strategies.  Mike divides his time between Bethlehem and Castle Rock, CO.

John Buckley

John Buckley, Head of Sales

John has more than 25 years of experience in CPG, including positions with brokers, manufacturers and private equity. Over the past 12 years, he has played a key sales management role in four successful corporate carve-outs: Meow Mix Company, Sun Country Foods, Back to Nature and, most recently, Lightlife Foods, where John was VP of Sales. Each of these ventures entailed turning multi-year stagnation into double-digit top and bottom line growth, which led to high-return exits to strategic buyers. John has a BS in Marketing from Providence College.

Pat McCarthy

Pat McCarthy, Head of Product Development & Sourcing

Pat provides comprehensive perspectives and solutions from “concept to shelf,” leveraging his experience in brand management, global sourcing, product development and retail integration. Working with manufacturers, retailers and brand development agencies, including Dial, H-E-B Private Brand and Daymon Worldwide, Pat has been involved with the development of thousands of new products, including over 800 items for the re-launch of Wild Oats Organic, which went from inception to $100M in 18 months. Pat earned his MBA at Western International University.

Richard Milker

Richard Milker, Head of Sourcing & New Product Development

A specialist in confectionary and snacking brands, Rich has three decades of experience in R&D, packaging, quality control and project management. He helped develop, grow and lead brands, people, teams and technologies for Mars, Kelloggs and, most recently Just Born. Rich has a BA in Food Science and Technology from Iowa State University.

Mike Palmer

Mike Palmer, Director of Operations

Mike has 30+ years of experience in operations and manufacturing management, product development and custom machinery design. He spent the last 12 years as General Manager for a baking machinery manufacturer, building custom equipment and production lines and developing major and minor bulk ingredient systems for the baking industry. Mike earned his MBA at DeSalesUniversity.

Kevin Pond

Kevin Pond, VP of Sales

Kevin has 20 years of CPG experience working in retail, brokerage and sales. His gained a broad perspective on retail from managing both stores and categories during 13 years with Albertsons,where he became responsible for over $1B annual sales and $400M earnings. In 2013, Kevin joined Acosta Sales & Marketing, where he rose to SVP of the Natural/Specialty division, leading a 52 person team that managed the retail business of over 200 natural and organic manufacturers.

Linsey Herman

Linsey Herman, Director of Product Development

Linsey has 12 years’ experience working in innovation and new product development for food companies, with a focus on the natural, organic and free-from spaces. Specializing in idea-to-shelf product development, with expertise in nutrition and formulation, she has helped bring over 300 new products to market in retail and foodservice. A chef by training, she puts a culinary spin on nutritional formulation. Linsey is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute, earned her BA from Harvard, and holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Leland Carter

Leland Carter, Director of Acquisitions

Leland has 10 years’ experience in investment banking and private equity investing in the consumer and retail sectors. Working with AUA Private Equity Partners, Wild Oats and Guggenheim Securities, he has completed transactions in food and beverage, restaurants and e-Commerce. Leland has a BA from USC and earned his MBA at Columbia University.

Tara Jane Ortiz

Tara Jane Ortiz, Director of Entrepreneurial Engagement

Tara has 15 years’ experience working in research and business development for start-ups and strategic partnerships in beauty, lifestyle, luxury goods and wellness categories. With a focus on creating communities, Tara designed and organized the first social impact pitch competition for female entrepreneurs in New York City.

Donna Sledzik-Pereira

Donna Sledzik-Pereira, Director of Office Operations

Donna has worked in consumer brands with Rich Thompson for over 17 years, first as Executive Assistant at Meow Mix, then as Senior Executive Assistant at Freshpet, and now as Director of Office Operations at Factory and Chief Executive Assistant. In addition, Donna oversees and manages the day-to-day activities of the company.

Contact Us

Donna Pereira