For many people, the old-fashioned malt shop serving fresh, handmade ice cream is something they’ve only seen in movies or old TV shows. Locals in Providence, Utah, however, don’t need to look very far to find tasty shakes, malts, sundaes and other treats made in much the same fashion as they were decades ago.

Expanding a business into new markets while keeping a close eye on product quality can be a tricky proposition for many in the food industry. This is especially challenging for those who stake their reputation on having a product known among connoisseurs for its taste and high quality.

Very few companies can claim George Washington and Abraham Lincoln among their past customers. With more than 232 years of continuous operation and roots going back even further, Laird and Company can stake a place in American history as the nation’s first commercial distillery.

Rinda Tucker, foodservice manager at Vitasoy USA, recalls a time when selling soy products required some extra work. Though the benefits – including decreased risk of many serious illnesses – are numerous, it was lost on the larger non-vegan population. However, as the nation has heightened its awareness on those things that soy helps prevent – such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity – restaurants, grocers and food manufacturers have sought alternatives to traditional proteins such as beef, chicken and pork. Though these meats remain on the menu, tofu, which is a soy-based product, is playing more of a role in foods sold today.

Even though the business had been in his family for nearly 80 years, Phil Tulkoff didn’t expect to have much involvement in Tulkoff Foods before he took control of it seven years ago. After spending more than 20 years in the aerospace and computer consulting sectors, Tulkoff says the family business wasn’t something he had spent a lot of time thinking about. “My only food experience was three meals a day,” he jokes.

Although the taste of beer and its foaming head on a chilled stein is eph­em­eral, providing it is not. In New Ulm, Minn., do­ing so has been a long-running enterprise. Now in its 152nd year of family ownership in New Ulm, August Schell Brewing Co. has weathered changing tastes and styles in the evolving beer market and is prospering in the era of craft beer.

For more than 60 years, family owned LeVecke Corp. has specialized in giving its customers the finest service possible. Even in today’s very different business environment, “We’re not going to let go of that [philosophy],” COO Joe LeVecke says.

Fresca Foods has changed greatly since it was founded in the early 1990s. Back then, it served retail and wholesale foodservice clients by providing packaged pasta, sauces and soups. Today, the company provides manufacturing, marketing and financial investment to second-stage natural and organic food brands.

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