The year 2009 isn’t remembered as a particularly positive one for American businesses. Companies in practically every sector at the time were struggling to survive and making difficult choices such as laying off employees and reducing operations.
Grand Central Station in Manhattan will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013, and celebrating right along will be the Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant, founded in 1913 in the historic station. In the early 1970s, the Oyster Bar had fallen on hard times and been clamped shut for awhile when founder Jerome Brody pried it open in 1974. With a new concept and lots of investment, imagination and hard work, Brody found a pearl there.
In our fast-paced world, businesses are born and disappear daily. It is unusual to find a company with a history as long as Demerara Distillers in Guyana. The rum distillery can track its roots back to the 1700s, when 300 local sugar cane producers formed an exporting cooperative and started selling the molasses-derived spirits.
Gerald “Jerry” Aquilina knows what separates a great pasta sauce from other brands. “It’s not a secret – it’s the ingredients,” he says without hesitation. “We only use fresh ingredients in our sauces.” Jerry, grandson of the founder of Victoria Fine Foods, took over the role of CEO in early 2011. Also leading the company in an invigorated new direction is food industry veteran Brian Dean, serving as the company’s president.
Alan Thomsen is a “lifer.” He has been working at his family’s business – Schoep’s Ice Cream – since he was a boy. “I’ve done just about every job there is to do here,” he says. In April 2012, Thomsen took on the role of president of this beloved, 84-year-old Wisconsin institution. Surrounded by treats such as Caramel Overloader and Badger Tracks ice cream, one can imagine his life isn’t all that bad.
Joining him at the reins are three more Thomsens: Vice President Eric Thomsen, Operations Manager Richard Thomsen and Project Manager John Thomsen. The group of brothers and cousins makes up the third generation to run the business.
For the nation’s largest produce distributor, sustainability means more than just installing LED lights or recycling packaging.
In October 2012, PRO*ACT established Greener Fields Together, an industrywide collaboration of environmentally responsible parties including farmers, distributors, retailers and foodservice operators. They have come together to make steady, measurable improvements in sustainability and food safety practices through all levels of the produce supply chain.
For Mike and Katie Coullard, coming home meant coming back to Panola Pepper Corp. The couple – who moved from Baton Rouge, La., to Lake Providence in July of 2009 – returned to Katie’s hometown primarily to help run the family business. Mike is vice president of operations and Katie is the director of marketing. As the 30th anniversary approaches, the Coullards couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the company’s success.
After 30 successful years making premium wines, it would seem easy for Merryvale Vineyards to take a relaxed approach to its business and maintain the status quo. Instead, the family owned and operated Napa Valley winery is taking major steps to adapt its operations to the current market and ensure its future.
“What's good enough today is not good enough tomorrow,” says Rene Schlatter, president of the company, located in St. Helena, Calif., in the famed Napa Valley. “The market is much more competitive now than it was when we started, and brands are popping up left and right every day. We always have to be at the cutting-edge in terms of vineyard sourcing, winemaking and marketing.”
When Ramiro Deleon Roel started La Fama Foods Inc. with the help of his wife, Yolanda, his intention was to support his family. He never dreamed the small corn tortilla production company he started in 1982 would grow to the size it is today. Coming from humble beginnings, Roel had started his career as a baker in Mexico and his wife was an agricultural worker when they entered the United States.
Their daughter, Sandra Roel, started working at the family business as a young girl. “I’ve been working here since I was 10 years old,” she recalls. “My brothers were nine, seven and five; we had little bitty things to do. Dad would get them up to load trucks. It was a thing with my father – the work ethic, the love of what you’re doing.”
There are many sports-themed restaurants and bars, but Glory Days Grill sets itself apart by being a place where you can bring the whole family, co-founder Jeff Newman says. “We get all the sports fans at the same time.”
The Gaithersburg, Md.-based company has locations in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia serving a menu which includes burgers, chicken wings, soups, signature sandwiches, ribs, pastas and seafood. The food focus is on freshness, and the restaurants’ seasonally driven feature menus are wildly popular. Newman started the restaurant in 1996 with his partners Richard Danker and Robert Garner, and Glory Days Grill will be celebrating 17 years in business in April 2013.