Bob Chinn offers a humble response when asked why he feels his restaurant has been such a success over its long history. “I never gave it much thought,” says Chinn, whose self-named crab house in Wheeling, Ill., celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. “I just work day-to-day and try to make each day better than yesterday.”

The business world is not short on stories about manufacturers that got started in their founder’s home garage, a construction worker starting with one hammer and a few nails that grew into a multimillion-dollar operation, and restaurants with concepts that were developed in their creators’ kitchens. The Slap Ya Mama brand of Cajun products takes that notion even further – the origins of its business involve rolling a large pickle jar around on the kitchen floor. 

By using the highest quality of ingredients and operating a state-of-the-art production facility, Route 11 Potato Chips is proof that the best things in life are still made by hand, owner Sarah Cohen says. The company’s commitment to quality traces back to her family’s restaurant at the Tabard Inn, one of the oldest hotels in Washington, D.C. For years, the Cohen family has operated a farm in rural Virginia where it grew fresh produce for the restaurant. 

The employees at Bright Coop Inc. have a saying – “If you eat chicken, we probably helped put it on your plate.” It’s a fairly true statement since the 60-year-old company has manufactured and distributed poultry handling equipment across the world. In fact, since the company is a leading innovator in the business, it not only helps the chicken get to consumer’s plates, but it gets it there faster and more efficient, as well.

As one of the leading pro­viders of dispensing equi­p­­­ment to bars and rest­aurants nationwide, Wunder-Bar has a unique challenge to overcome: dispelling the notion that high quality means high cost. In fact, President Rick Martindale is tackling the misconception head-on to en­sure potential customers realize that the return-on-investment in its pro­ducts can be as short as 10 to 11 months. 

When people try an oyster cracker or a snack cracker made by Westminster Cracker Co. for the first time, the company pro­claims that everyone says it’s the best cracker they’ve ever eaten. That’s a bold assertion to make in an industry as diverse and competitive as the cracker business, but the fact that the Rutland, Vt.-based company has been around for close to two centuries is a testament to its quality and popularity, Chairman of the Board Jeffrey M. Walters says. 

For Vegetable Juices Inc. (VJI), there may be no better time than now to be in the natural vegetable flavor and ingredients business. “We’re in a very good spot as far as the wellness trend,” President Jim Hurley says. “We’re trying to provide solutions so people get more vegetables, health and wellness into their diet.”

David Mintz explains that many people refer to him as “the Kosher Ham,” due to his tendency to tell jokes and “put the fun back in ice cream” with his dairy-free, soy-based creations. But as the founder and chairman of Tofutti Brands Inc., Mintz often hams it up as the result of his natural excitement about the company’s products and new developments in the dairy-free market.

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