If you ask the vice president of Sterling Pacific Meat Co., Luis Munoz, about the distributor’s processing facility, he will say it’s state of the art. Some may smirk at a vice president’s vested opinions about his or her own company’s operations, but in the case of Sterling Meats, all one has to do is listen to the experts.

Virgil Siedhoff Sr., owner and founder of Siedhoff Distributing, bought a truck in 1954 and started delivering milk in glass bottles door to door. He could not imagine then how much his business would grow over the next five decades. Today, the company has three separate divisions: dairy distribution, trucking and truck repair.

Whether it is tilapia harvested in Ecuador, farm-raised trout from Idaho or oysters sourced from the Gulf of Mexico North Atlantic Coast, Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico scours oceans, lakes, rivers and aquaculture farms seeking the best catch for its customers. Its founder and CEO Craig Risk explains that Seattle Fish Company, as a distributor of only seafood, is able to offer an expertise that many do-it-all distributors do not.

Despite growing into a nationwide distributor of premium specialty food for banquet halls, hotels, country clubs, restaurants, caterers and colleges, Progressive Gourmet has not lost sight of what made the company a success – maintaining a nimble size to serve customers faster and more efficiently than the competition. CEO Chris Collias helped lead a pair of mergers within eight months to further establish his company’s position as a supplier of choice for gourmet handheld snacks and appetizers.

Some companies like to find cheaper ways to get jobs done, but Pohl Food Service Inc. is not interested in shortcuts, President, CEO and co-owner Paul Bratland says. “Our customers know what [level of quality] they’re going to be delivered,” he says.

Many organizations across the United States are promoting local produce. In the Asheville, N.C., area, one of those organizations is the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). Some of the reasons why ASAP recommends getting your tomatoes, potatoes and turnips from local farmers include great-tasting food that is also better for your health, since the shorter travel time results in higher nutrient retention; local food supports local families which in turn build up the communities; and local farms promote farm preservation, environmental preservation and protect local wildlife.

Supplying fresh fish to resorts, hotel restaurants and natural foods grocers throughout the Southeast is a 24/7 business. “Everybody wants that fish by 11 a.m.,” emphasizes Gary Reed, owner of Gary’s Seafood and Specialties. To provide that, Reed’s employees start filleting fresh fish from all over the world at 10 p.m. the previous night. The company runs two shifts processing fish six days a week.

Dorr Lobster is a family run business built on risk and innovation. Rick and Lynda Dorr started the company in 1978 on Bar Island in the downeast town of Milbridge, Maine. Once a busy boat-building and sardine-processing center, today the community of Milbridge is home to the country’s largest blueberry grower, Wyman’s of Maine, and to Dorr Lobster.

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