elling fresh produce runs in Angelo Benandi’s family. His father used to bring fresh produce such as watermelons and pumpkins from his family farm to sell at New Orleans’ French Market, and that’s where he got his first taste of the produce business. After many years of helping his father sell produce in the French Market, Benandi went into business for himself, establishing A.J.’s Produce Co. Inc. in 1983 as a wholesaler of fruits and vegetables.

Providing the “personal touch” in its service to customers has always been important to Val’s Distributing Co. The Tulsa, Okla.-based company formed in 1976, shortly after the opening of a large regional grocery distribution center changed the way meat packers in its market interfaced with smaller retailers. This created a service niche Val’s Distributing was more than happy to fill.

“Up to that point, all meat packers had been dealing directly with stores, but afterward they no longer ran trucks directly to independent retailers,” co-owner Ken Grabow says. “Our founders, Val Brewer and Vern Langenberg, felt there was still a need for someone to deal directly to independent retailers, so we consolidated the stock of several meat companies into one place and started distributing directly to stores.”

There are many beer distributors, but Mid-South Distributing sets itself apart from the rest through its products and a passion for the business, CEO Rick Gerwe says. “This company has only two real assets: the brands we sell and the people that do it,” he says. “Our people know how to work.”

The Tullahoma, Tenn.-based Mid-South distributes domestic, import and craft brands from multiple brewers, including MillerCoors LLC, Crown Imports LLC, Heineken and Pabst Brewing Co. Gerwe says the operation of his company has been a family affair entirely.

People have team t-shirts, team caps, team cups – now they can have team coffee. One of the latest innovations from LaRue Coffee & Roasterie is to package some of its many varieties of coffee in flavors correlated with members of the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football team that is popular in its headquarters city of Omaha, Neb.

Family owned and managed LaRue distributes more than 1,400 beverage and beverage-related products from its 20 warehouses. The company services convenience stores, restaurants, institutions and business offices with coffee and equipment in 11 states. It also roasts the LaRue brand of coffee and sells it online and in select retail locations in all 50 states.

After more than 20 years in the wholesale ingredient industry, The Ingredient Company has a track record of success. The company has been working with companies in various segments of the market in Canada and the United States, and its goals include aligning with current product and consumer trends and offering top-quality food ingredients to the food, pharmaceuticals and nutraceutical industries.

Founded by CEO Al Frittenburg, the company focuses on working with its network of product partners to provide them with solutions. Frittenburg has been in the food business since the 1980s, having worked with some major companies on the industrial side, as well as a distribution company that was sold to McCormick. After deciding to start his own business, he founded The Ingredient Company in 1992.

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.

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