The Army used to run commercials that said: “We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.” The same could be said of Pioneer Wholesale Meat Co., which works hard to process orders for its Chicago customers at the start of each day. “I always say we do 80 percent of our business between 6 and 8 in the morning,” owner Bill Milligan says.

According to Dorothy Strackbein, to survive the food industry, especially on the meat side of things, a company must have a solid financial plan. “I’m a certified financial planner and have a financial planning practice, and in the meat business, you need to have cash flow,” Strackbein says.

Over the course of 77 years as a beer and wine distributor, the folks at O&W Inc. have seen numerous changes in the beverage industry. With each flip of the calendar, the company has worked to adapt. From the perils of prohibition to today’s sluggish economy, O&W has remained agile. As a result, the company has become one of the most successful beverage distributors in the Midwest. As the beverage industry continues to evolve, and the economy continues to quiver, O&W stays focused. Already, a number of changes are taking place at the company. 

Throughout the past 70 years, O.K. Foods has remained a family owned operation that is heavily involved in its Arkansas and Oklahoma communities. But in that time, the company has evolved from a livestock and poultry feed producer into one of the world’s largest fully integrated poultry producers. Today, the company employs a staff of roughly 4,000.

Back in 1980, three men – Lazar Jovanovic, James Hall and Jeremy Lumianski – borrowed money from a bank and their relatives to start a meat supply company called Polarpak Foods. The goal of the business was to produce various portions of meat products – raw, solid, chopped and formed, breaded and unbreaded – in large supply to restaurants and grocery stores. It began by selling a high volume of sliced beef liver. Polarpak would eventually be changed to Nordic Foods, which is now a leader in the food processing industry.

Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed is a global checkweighing and inspection systems manufacturer, and is part of the Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection Division. Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed builds checkweighers, combination checkweighers and metal detection systems, and other end-of-line inspection systems.

In January 1971, McCraith Beverages began operations as a beer distributor in Utica, N.Y. A family business, Daniel J. McCraith led the company with his son Tom at his side, and later his daughter Susan. “We did pretty much everything by ourselves,” Tom McCraith says. “We started with eight employees and three were family members.”

Although a mere mention of Jamaica often spurs thoughts of sitting beach-side with a cocktail topped off with an umbrella, life’s not always a beach on the island. The Caribbean hasn’t been immune to the world economic recession, but Jamaica-based Lasco Foods has worked hard to counter those effects.

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