DeWayne McCasland, owner of, thinks he just lucked out getting into the pecan industry. “I wasn’t a pecan grower the first 25 years of my life,” he concedes. His father and he just bought a ranch they thought looked attractive because of its trees. “We were cowboys and raised chickens and turkeys and things,” he recalls. “We didn’t know anything about growing pecans. We bought this place, and it had lots of trees on it. It just looked pretty, and we thought we’d take care of it.”

When Scott Hagg stepped in as director of operations for Arabica Coffeehouse in 2005, it signaled the company’s desire to move from a regional chain to an international brand. However, before brewing plans for expansion, Arabica took a step back to pare down.

Even in the face of increased competition and a shrinking customer base, Kohl Wholesale of Quincy, Ill., refuses to abandon the time-tested practices that have kept the family owned distributor in business since 1873. That means while the competitors pass fuel and other operational costs onto its customers, Kohl Wholesale merely prices its products to reflect this.

For President John W. Griffin, family owned Griffin Foods Co. is more than just a business. Instead, “Our purpose for our company is ‘Sharing the Great Tastes of Life,’” he declares. Based in Muskogee, Okla., the 103-year-old company manufactures high-end syrups, mustards, jellies, salsas and sauces. Griffin’s grandfather, J.T. Griffin, founded the company in 1908 when he came to Oklahoma from Mississippi to start his own business.

For Leona’s Pizzeria Inc., food is not only a business, but also a point of pride, President Andrew Dickman says. Based in Chicago, the company operates 12 restaurants that serve more than 65 items made from scratch, including pizzas, ribs, salads, lasagnas, burgers and sandwiches.

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