Some companies decide to serve only one type of client, but Castella Imports Inc. refuses to limit its options, Vice President Chris Valsamos says. “We like to [go after the] global marketplace,” he says. Based in Hauppauge, N.Y., Castella Imports sells specialty foods, spices, olives, cheeses and other products imported from around the world. Valsamos’ father, President Bill Valsamos, founded the firm nearly 20 years ago, after working for several different companies.

Based in Pompano Beach, Fla., CarbAmericas was established in 1993 as an import company to bridge domestic and offshore fruits and vegetables, and avoid gaps in production. The ownership team, consisting of Harvey Pollak, Jeffrey Friedman and Daniel Pollak, has a combined 90 years of experience in marketing fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States. “We very easily adapt to the changing demands in the market,” Partner Daniel Pollak states.

George Croft believes an organization can operate only as swiftly as its management team. Croft and his newly acquired leadership team hit the ground running in 2008, and very quickly lifted Brick Brewing Co. Limited from a strong regional player to a nationwide distributor of beer and ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages, in addition to its already established co-pack business with Canada Dry Mott’s Inc. and Loblaw.

It doesn’t matter whether a recipe is executed flawlessly if the flavor isn’t there. A food manufacturer can have the most advanced equipment, the most effective distribution and the most attractive packaging, but it likely won’t mean anything if its products don’t have authentic flavor. For 55 years, Washington’s Milne Fruit Products Inc. has been providing the food industry with the fruit ingredients people love, making it one of the industry’s most important partners. 

When John and Dave Gates started Lancaster Foods LLC more than 20 years ago, they had only one truck serving a small customer base in Pennsylvania. But when Lancaster Foods was acquired by Guest Services Inc. – a private hospitality management company based in Fairfax, Va. – in 1992, it gained the resources it needed to expand its business. Today, Lancaster Foods’ fleet exceeds 90 trucks, and its customer base stretches across the entire Eastern Seaboard. Despite the Jessup, Md., company’s growth and success, one thing has remained the same – its commitment to quality and service, says Jerry Chadwick, vice president of sales & marketing and business development.

Shopping the seafood section of grocery stores is not always the most pleasant of experiences. Ac­cording to surveys of seafood purchasing habits, the No. 1 reason many shoppers do not purchase more seafood than they do is because of questionable freshness, “fishy” aromas and also because they don’t have the time and are often unsure of how to prepare it. 

Diaz Foods may be a family owned business, but the company does not operate like one – especially the ones where family members rely on nepotism for their jobs, President Rene Diaz says. “In a family business, you get your job because of your relationship with the family,” he says. “You get your job based on your capabilities at Diaz Foods.”

Its range of offerings and geographic reach throughout Oregon and Washington are major competitive advantages for Columbia Distributing. “Our biggest competitive advantage is our list of suppliers and our mix of products,” CEO and President Gregg Christiansen asserts. “We’re one of the few that distributes wine – through a shared service agreement with Young’s Market – and soft drinks, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. We’re one of the largest beer distributors in the country, and with our shared service agreement in the wine business, our geographic coverage is the largest in the Northwest.”


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