Bill Evans owned a wholesale bakery in Chicago and was seriously considering expansion when an appealing business opportunity came his way. Rather than invest significant money to enlarge his facility, Evans merged in 2007 with Coastal Foods.

Evans was familiar with the Houston-based food manufacturer because it used the same food broker as his bakery. He believed the merger would be advantageous to both sides.

A merger meant Evans would not have to commit significant time and energy and spend several million dollars to expand his 20-year-old business. Meanwhile, Coastal Foods likely would gain significant marketshare in the food products business because it would expand its product line, Evans says.

With its roots in carpentry dating back to 1913, Boston Showcase Co. (BSC) is still a thriving family business more than 100 years later. BSC did continue to build showcases for the Mr. Donut chain into the 1970s – when it was purchased by Dunkin’ Donuts – but the company today focuses primarily on designing new kitchens and supplying customers with regular smallwares deliveries. The company prides itself on the ability to serve many roles for myriad clients.    

“The company was started 102 years ago by my grandfather, Max Starr,” President Alan Starr says. “He was a carpenter, hence the name of the company, and for 40 years Boston Showcase Co. built showcases and store fixtures, primarily for retail stores. We gradually got into building bars, which led us into the foodservice industry.” 

The Auvil Fruit Co. has been growing more than apples and cherries since 1928. Over that time, the Orondo, Wash.-based company has cultivated a strong reputation as one of the best growers of premium apples and cherries under the Gee Whiz label. According to Plant Operations Manager Walt Hough, the company strives to provide its retailer customers with fruit that is worth the price they pay for it and is worth the investment Auvil Fruit Co. makes into its orchard operations. Along the way, the company continues to work hard to live up to the forward-thinking example set by its founder and continuously improve its operations. 

The company was founded by Grady Auvil and his brothers, Robert and David, who purchased 22 acres of land in Orondo to establish their own fruit orchard. Although the land was full of rocks and sagebrush at first, the Auvil brothers cleared it and soon had a thriving orchard of apples and apricots. By 1977, the orchard had grown to more than 250 acres, on which the company grew apples, cherries, nectarines, pears and peaches. 

The spirits market is as subject to trends as any other consumer product, and for a while, it was flavored vodkas – and not just fruit flavors, but even ones usually found on top of desserts. Now that trend has passed, and Anestasia Vodka is emphasizing its smoothness.

“Originally, we launched Anestasia Vodka as a so-called Sensational Spirit,” CEO Yuliya Mamontova explains. “It was a flavored vodka. It had a numbing effect, and many consumers described it as a vodka having a cooling effect of a menthol, but without a minty taste. After about a year on the market, we reformulated the original Sensational Spirit and relaunched a non-flavored version of Anestasia Vodka.

As a child born in Egypt and later growing up in Europe, Ahmass Fakahany was fascinated with food, restaurants and the hospitality business. When, as a young man, the time came for him to further his education and choose a college, his initial instinct was to pursue a future in the industry he long admired.

Fakahany’s first choice of college was the Lausanne Hospitality Management School in Switzerland; however, the prestigious school’s admission requirement of fluency in four languages made it inaccessible to him at the time. Instead, he went to the United States to attend the Boston University Questrom School of Business and later the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

Fakahany proved to be highly successful in the business world. After initially working for Exxon Corp. in various capacities, he would go on to work for financial giant Merrill Lynch. His 20-year path through that company led him to the very top – as president and COO, Fakahany would oversee Merrill Lynch’s more than 63,000 employees in 40 different countries.

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