Becoming a regional enterprise wasn’t in the original vision for Pete’s Fresh Market when it began as a produce stand in the 1970s. But thanks to the opportunities presented and the potential within previously underserved areas, it now has 12 locations throughout the Chicago area with even more in the pipeline.
Despite this growth, Pete’s remains family owned and operated, which gives it an authenticity and special touch that other big-box retailers might not have, according to Executive Officer Vanessa Dremonas, daughter of its founder and owner. “The owner of Pete’s will go to every one of our stores daily and make suggestions, mentor employees and give a level of personal attention that is rare nowadays,” she says.
Pete’s prides itself on going above and beyond for its customers. Our buyers fight daily to get the best prices, Dremonas says, so that we can pass those savings on to the customer. Quality is also an important component to Pete’s reputation as it has “Fresh” in its name. The company wants to ensure it lives up to its name and brings only the best-quality products to families’ tables. The Dremonas family wouldn’t sell or serve anything it wouldn’t put on its own table, she notes.
This is especially important given the growth of healthy lifestyles, which translates directly into the kinds of products customers want to purchase. More people are looking for non-GMO, organic, specialty and gluten-free foods. “We’re hoping to change the way America eats,” Dremonas says. “We’ve always focused on produce, but in the center of our store, we’re aiming to provide healthier options because customers are asking for them. Junk food and pop just aren’t selling as much anymore. Even the conventional grocery labels are starting to create healthier options within their brand. The quality we stand behind and put our name on is becoming a part of our new tradition.”

More than 70 percent of the seafood purchased by Americans from the grocery store is frozen and pumped with chemicals to keep it moist and white. Global Seafoods North America has set out to change that percentage with its fresh and wild-caught products that are easy to get – and cook – thanks to seafood education provided by the company.
“Fresh seafood in the U.S. grocery stores, compared to other countries like Spain, France or Italy, is quite a poor variety,” CEO and founder Oleg Nikitenko says. “We have to introduce more fresh seafood to the market, which is an excellent source of nutrition, tastes good and the reason we started our e-commerce business.”
Four years ago, the Bellevue, Wash.-based seafood supplier made the decision to slowly exit the wholesale part of its business and transition to e-commerce, selling only to consumers.
Global Seafoods started its e-commerce business with the goals to educate consumers about its seafood and the health benefits, as well as provide recipes and instructional videos on its website.

Having the best brands of gasoline and food and the best customer service is the Formula One for success at J & H Family Stores. With 50 retail locations in west-central Michigan around Grand Rapids and commercial fuel and lubricant distribution in the same area, J & H Family Stores is evolving and expanding to meet its customers’ needs.

“We own and operate 47 stores, and we have three additional ones that we own and lease,” President Craig Hoppen explains. “We have 65 open dealers on their own property.” J & H Oil Co. supplies those contracted site locations with products branded Exxon/Mobil or Marathon. “We have a commercial division as well that sells to trucking companies, farms and commercial haulers,” he adds.

J & H Oil’s two warehouse locations in Cassopolis and Wyoming, Mich., distribute lubricants, fuel, chemicals and other products with cash-and-carry and wholesale service. The company also delivers upon request.

Organic versus genetically modified (GMO) food continues to be a heated debate in the food industry, but offering natural foods and as much product information as possible has always been the focus at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. 

“We have been doing this for 36 years and we believe that people should know what’s in their food,” co-owner Chris Masiero says. “Truth in labeling is paramount to us. If a producer believes that much in a product, there is no reason they shouldn’t list if it’s GMO or not. From the consumers’ perspective, if you are going to ingest something, you should be able to know what’s in it.” 

When Unidine developed its Fresh Food Pledge the dining management company had to think about what “fresh food” really was. Other businesses may stretch the definition, but for Unidine Founder and CEO Richard Schenkel it boiled down to the simple concept of cooking from scratch. “It’s really what separates our brand and our competitor brands,” he says. “It’s the only way we operate our business.”

The approach has led the Boston-based company to an average growth of 25 percent each of the past seven years. “When we started 14 years ago the movement toward wholeness and fresh wasn’t as strong as it is today.” Matching its customers’ desire for healthy eating has driven much of that success. “We really are a disrupter in our industry,” Schenkel adds.

Cincinnati has always been a beer town. In the 1890s, Cincinnatians consumed 40 gallons of beer per capita, two-and-a-half times the national average of 16 gallons, and the town was once called the “beer capital of the world.” Even today, Cincinnati boasts more than a dozen craft breweries and the state of Ohio as a whole produced more than one million gallons of craft beer in 2013, the fourth most in the nation, according to the Brewers Association.

Craft beer is also big business, having an economic impact in Ohio of $238.1 million in 2012, according to the Brewers Association. So when hops-loving locals are craving a pumpkin pale ale, regional grocer Remke Markets wants to be top of mind. 

Sonoma Design, Apparel and Promotions found its niche designing top-of-the-line apparel and accessories in Northern California’s wine country using state-of-the-art engineering techniques. 

The Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company was founded by Eddie Brascia and Tim Keehn in 2003 and is located in Sonoma County. Brascia started his career at North Coast Clothing in 2003 and prides himself on customer relations and a “do whatever it takes to get the job done” attitude. Keehn founded Sew Be It Embroidery, based in Santa Rosa, Calif., in 1996 and has built his businesses around product quality and a commitment to meet deadlines.  

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