One of the biggest stories of the last decade has been the rise of the craft beer market. Once solely the domain of the hard-core aficionados and dedicated hobbyists, smaller breweries have taken up a much larger portion of the overall beer market in recent years, even taking up space on the shelves at major national retailers and convenience stores. In New York, however, the segment’s growth has not been as robust as it has in the rest of the country, with craft beer only making up about 8 percent of the market. Syracuse, N.Y.-based Empire Brewing Company is working to change that. 

The company started out as a collaboration between two college roommates in 1994, brewing their own beers in small batches. By 2007, founder and owner David Katleski took full control of Empire Brewing Company and began pushing it in new directions, including moving toward the use of more locally produced ingredients and even locally produced energy. Four years ago, Empire Brewing Company started to make beer in larger quantities for distribution outside of the Syracuse market, and today the company is in the process of building a new brewery facility to increase capacity and fill both bottles and kegs. 

As the second-largest duck processor in the United States, Culver Duck Farms oversees 100 contract growers, 10 breeder farms and processes 25,000 ducks per day. “We try to be the best at what we do,” COO Tim Rouch says. “We don’t try to be the least expensive, but strive to produce the best product. We generally have higher prices than our competitors but we also offer higher quality.” 

Long Island, N.Y., in the 1800s was well known for duck farming. The first Long Island duck farm that commercially raised ducks was the Atlantic Duck Farm in 1858. Culver Duck Farms founder Herbert R. Culver’s great-grandmother Louisa Hallock began raising ducks in Speonk, Long Island and her son, Arthur Hallock, was recorded in the early 1900s as the largest duck farmer in the world. Arthur Hallock’s daughter and third generation duck farmer, Katherine Hallock, continued to oversee C & R Duck Farms in Westhampton, N.Y., and became a world-renowned duck farmer in 1959 for the production of approximately three million ducks per year. 

It says a lot about a company when it has customers that have been with it for multiple generations, and Ace Coffee Bar Inc. is one of those companies. President Jill Cavitt says the company – started by her father more than 65 years ago – has multiple customers that have been with it for more than 30 years, two for more than 50 years. 

Cavitt says the company’s success is the result of the values of hard work and high quality that her father, Bernard Cavitt, instilled within the company. Even after the elder Cavitt had introduced the second generation of family leaders to the company, she says, he remained strongly involved in the day-to-day operations for a long time afterward. “He definitely had a strong work ethic; he was a workaholic,” Cavitt says. “He was still coming into the office until just a few years ago.” 

After more than 90 years, Star International Holdings Inc. stands as a leader in its industry, President Brian Kearins says. “We are known for our technology, innovativeness and value to our customer,” he says.

Based in St. Louis, the company designs and manufactures commercial foodservice equipment, including griddles, char broilers, drawer warmers, conveyor and convention ovens, and sandwich grills. Kearins notes that Star International started operations in 1923 as a small equipment company.

Jullian Burch, the founder of Star International, began building electric popcorn poppers in 1923. Over the years, Star International management expanded the product line to include broilers, fryers and griddles. Star International acquired Helmco Lacy in 1962, ToastMaster in 1997, Holman in 2002 and Lang in 2007.  In 2008, the Middleby Corp. purchased Star International and in 2009, merged Star International with Wells Bloomfield.  

By keeping its operations under one roof, Profile Food Ingredients (PFI) can keep things efficient for its customers, CEO Ted Benic says. For instance, when making decisions, “We don’t have to call overseas or another location.”

“We can walk right down the hall and make a decision right there,” he adds, noting this allows the company to have more flexibility. “We do it without any major productions.”

Based in Elgin, Ill., PFI is a dry food packaging and blending company that provides stabilizers and emulsifiers for the food industry. Benic co-founded the company, which was incorporated in 2004.

As a “fairly large company with a small company feel,” Whitlock Packaging remains dedicated to the needs of its customers, explains Mike Guidry, vice president of business development. Whitlock Packaging has 900 employees and more than 1,000 when it uses temporary labor, but the management team still knows the local people and everyone works together to serve customers. Management understands that advanced technology is important, but its people create the value. This helps drive a culture where quality is paramount and service is constant. 

“Because of our size, we are one of the largest hot-fill copackers in the country,” Guidry says. “On some lines, we produce 50,000 cases each day. We have the capabilities to produce large volumes very rapidly and customers appreciate that. But we still act like a small company – customers can come right to the decision makers when they need something.”

When restaurants need a replacement part quickly, they can rely on Whaley Parts & Supply. “If you’re in Sacramento, Calif., and you want a thermostat, we guarantee you’ll have it in two days,” President and CEO Wells Whaley says, noting that it can provide this service to any client in the continental United States.

Based in Lexington, S.C., Whaley Foodservice offers repair service and replacement parts to restaurants, hospitality and hotel clients, as well as correctional facilities, universities and casinos. 

Owned by the Iowa Turkey Growers Cooperative, meat-processing company West Liberty Foods was formed in 1996 by the consortium of Iowa turkey growers. The operation now owns five meat-processing plants.

“We are a farmer-based co-op,” President and CEO Ed Garrett explains. The co-op’s main facility had been a Kraft Foods operation until Kraft owner Philip Morris Companies Inc. closed the West Liberty, Iowa, plant in 1996. At that time, 47 Iowa turkey farmers formed the turkey co-op and assumed the business by purchasing the plant.

Check out our latest Edition!



Contact Us

Food and Drink Magazine
150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60601


Click here for a full list of contacts.

Latest Edition

Spread The Love

Back To Top