Larry Reasor had a simple yet effective idea in mind when he opened his first grocery store in Tahlequah, Okla., in 1963: sell customers the items they want to buy and put customers first. Today, Reasor’s namesake store has 15 full-service locations and two convenience stores/gas stations in the northeast Oklahoma market that continue to follow that principle by offering quality products. “Our value proposition is ‘experience the difference through quality, variety, freshness, innovation and service all at the right price,’” the company says.

When a potential client comes to Newton Industrial Con­sul­tants – a team of engineers who help manufacturers improve performance – it is usually for one of two reasons. According to Director Adrian Butler, Newton either is needed to help a dying company, or the potential client already has strong operations, but wants to be better. When Freeze-Dry Foods approached Newton in 2009, he explains, the company was definitely in the latter category.

More and more, big box retailers are super-sizing their stores by adding groceries and produce. As a result, if a consumer needs a new Wii game, laundry detergent and a couple of T-shirts, he can also do his grocery shopping at the same place. Small, independent retailers often fear for their business when a big box giant moves in, but this is not a huge concern to Thomas Balistreri III, vice president and co-owner of Sendik’s Fine Foods Inc. 

If there’s one thing Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has learned in the last few years, it’s that the recession hasn’t dampened people’s love for chocolate. COO Bryan Merryman says that although a lot of people have done away unnecessary spending in light of the tough economic times, simple things like chocolate don’t fit into that category. 

Roadtown Wholesale Trading Ltd. (RTW) is a good example of how a company can grow from humble beginnings into a leader in the food and beverage business, Executive Chairman Delma Maduro says. “We are the largest in the food industry in the British Virgin Islands [BVI].” Based in Road Town, Tortola BVI, the company is a wholesaler and retailer of food, beverages and other goods. Majority Shareholder and Director Peter Haycraft founded the company in 1961.

Just because we live in an era of convenience with little time to spare in our daily activities doesn’t mean our food and drinks can’t be freshly made – that’s Quick Chek’s philosophy and a key reason why the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based chain of convenience stores continues to grow by about six to eight stores per year. “Since our beginning in 1967, Quick Chek continues to redefine the term ‘convenience’ and remains the market leader in food service, fresh coffee, fast fuel and friendly people – something we call ‘fresh convenience,’” it says.

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt makes sure its operations are just like its product: smooth. Two San Francisco partners conceived the self-serve yogurt model in 2008 and introduced it to the Bay Area. It was the beginning stages of the help-yourself yogurt concept, which Orange Leaf helped pioneer. The company’s bold idea has sparked several copycats around the country. However, as with most things, nothing beats the original.

For Balboa Brands, it is not only important to deliver food products that improve the well being of consumers, but also ones that are appetizing, CEO Frank Easterbrook says. “We’re trying to build a product that is very healthful and tastes great,” he says. Based in Irvine, Calif., Balboa Brands manages two franchise concepts: Juice It Up!, which sells smoothies and juices, and its Juice It Up Frozen Yogurt concept. The company was formed, Easterbrook notes, from the merger of Juice It Up! and Blue Sky Juice in 1999.

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