Cacique Inc. has grown to become the largest Hispanic cheesemaker in the United States since it was founded in 1973. “It was started by my parents, Gilbert and Jennie, with very, very humble beginnings,” COO Gilbert de Cardenas explains. “My dad was the cheesemaker and he taught my mom how to do it. He went store-to-store and sold cheese out of a cooler in a teal green Pontiac.”

Cardenas the elder sold cheese products one at a time until sales accounts grew to two, four and then increased from there. At that time, high-quality Mexican cheese – known as “queso fresco” – was unavailable in the Los Angeles area. Now, 40 years later, the company is the largest in its sector. 

How did it do this? “We have a very talented team,” de Cardenas explains. “That is the most important thing. Our team is exceptional.”

The company is a family business run in a professional manner. It combines the dedication and hard work of a family business with professional management processes and controls typical in modern business.

Although Bar Louie has flourished in cities for decades offering urban sophistication in drinks and dining, it has prospered most in a suburban setting. “A casual, urban atmosphere is very important and benefits us most in suburban locations,” CEO John Neitzel emphasizes. “About 20 percent of our locations are in city centers, but most of our growth is in the suburbs.”

Neitzel maintains that research commissioned by Bar Louie indicates that only 4 percent of Bar Louie’s customers are choosing between Bar Louie and a national casual-dining brand. “In all honesty, we compete with local independents,” Neitzel insists.

The secret to creating the Bar Louie experience is the music, atmosphere, lighting and temperature (MALT). “The atmosphere we provide is critical to the delivery of the Bar Louie experience,” Neitzel says. “The atmosphere we create at lunch is different than late night. The music we play differs, and the lighting dims as the night goes on. Our typical late-night guest is 24 to 33 years old. We want to make sure the music being played is appropriate to the guest. That’s very important to us.”

People often do not look at packaging as an area where they can save money, but ALLIEDFLEX Technologies Inc. has helped many companies save millions of dollars. This has been managed by getting them to switch to flexible packaging, President Dennis Calamusa says. 

“The cumulative effect is huge,” he says. “It’s a total ripple effect of cost that starts at the beginning of the supply chain [and goes] all the way through to the retail shelves.”

Based in Sarasota, Fla., ALLIEDFLEX sells machines that can package items in formats such as the popular standup pouch, a single-serve portion packet and a flat-bottom bag. When the company started operations in 2002, it saw potential for the use of flexible packaging in the United States.

At the time, very few companies were using it stateside, Calamusa notes. However, “We had seen success around the world with that package design,” he recalls. “So our company was basically established to offer a consultative approach to transitioning from traditional rigid, older-style packaging to new, innovative packaging.”

Warehouse club stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club aren’t known for their visual appeal. Customers go there to buy large quantities at low prices. But products still need to stand out to shoppers in an eye-catching way.

Accurate Box Company helps food and beverage companies break out of the brown-and-boring mold when it comes to packaging products for club stores. Based in Paterson, N.J., it is one of the largest independent box manufacturers of litho-laminated packaging in the United States.

“When displayed on a pallet in a club store, packaging needs both eye-popping graphics and structural strength,” says Mark Schlossman, Accurate Box’s executive vice president and COO. “And the graphics need to be extremely consistent over the course of a print run because customers can see differences from package to package when displayed all at once.”

“The very beginning of 2006 is the last time we sold product to them and we had to change our focus from retail to do a lot more industrial,” explains Owner and CEO David Ryan. “We have been able to increase on the industrial ingredient sales, as well as maintain some of our retail to grow to a $40 million business.”

With the knowledge that its apple juice could do far more than meets the eye, Hood River Juice expanded beyond making juice for retail only and began working with food manufacturers that use apple juice as an ingredient in their own products, such as large beverage companies. Its garnered the new business while still maintaining a retail presence with its in-house Ryan’s apple cider in Northwest markets near its Oregon home.  

It is always good to have experience before becoming part of a long-established business. For co-owners and co-presidents Marion and Henry Swink, their previous experiences in the food industry have been critical in helping them continue the success of McCall Farms.

Vertically integrated Jaindl Turkey Farms sells everything connected with the popular poultry but the gobble. It breeds and hatches turkeys from its own eggs, grows their feed on 11,000 acres of farmland and processes the products, all in its own facilities. Among the advantages of this approach is full accountability.

In the past, the dreaded “freshman 15” was almost a big a source of concern for college students as their grades. On their own for the first time in their lives, young adults confronted with the freedom of college life stood the risk of gaining additional weight from a steady diet of pizza and breakfast cereal. Today, however, young people are better informed about proper nutrition, and college dining programs are working hard to give them the opportunities to make the best dietary choices. 

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