For more than 75 years, The Odom Corporation has carried forth the legacy of Milt Odom, who founded the company in Alaska in 1934. Today, the company is still a family owned business and one of the largest privately held companies in the Northwest. 

“We’re in the second generation of Odom family ownership, and the third generation is now actively involved in the company, as well,” President and CEO John Odom says. 

In the U.S. food distribution industry, the key success criteria are operational efficiencies, consumer understanding to drive sales, breadth of product and speed-to-market. With that in mind, DPI Specialty Foods has made it its mission to deliver gourmet, specialty, natural/organic and ethnic products to clients throughout the United States as cost-efficiently as possible while making sure its customers are supported by a well trained salesforce.

It’s not often that companies want their competition to succeed, but Paulaner HP USA has found that the success of the craft beer market has only increased demand for its own product. President and CEO Jeff Coleman became familiar with Paulaner – a brand of beers that began being brewed by monks in the early 1500s, and the leading Munich, Germany Brewery since 1634 – in the 1980s, and became an importer for the brand in 1987. That ended in 2003 when Heineken–Star Brands took over USA marketing and sales. Then in 2009, Paulaner Brewery and Coleman got back together, forming a Paulaner majority-owned joint venture with Coleman’s Distinguished Brands International.

When a company is doing something well in one or several aspects of its business, it doesn’t take long for customers, suppliers and its market as a whole to notice. New England Wine & Spirits Inc. – an importer and distributor of wines, beers and other beverages based in Connecticut – is a great example of this, based on the number of awards the company has won throughout its 25-year tenure in the industry. In recent years, New England Wine & Spirits has been recognized as the Best New Distributor and received the Wine Adventure Hero Award from California-based Wente Family Vineyards; Seghesio Winery of California selected four of New England Wine & Spirits’ salespeople to enter is Ambassador Club; and the entire company was chosen to entire the Ambassador Club of Shingleback Wines in Australia.

Musical front man for the prog rock bands A Perfect Circle, Tool and Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan also is spearheading efforts to elevate Arizona wines in the minds of wine connoisseurs worldwide and to champion his own wine label, Caduceus Cellars.

“We’re such a small, growing industry,” Keenan points out. He concedes that not much Arizona wine is being distributed outside the state’s borders. “This is definitely one of those industries that is about baby steps, and the truth is in the bottle,” Keenan insists. “Once we’ve established a profile for a bottle, you can taste Arizona in the bottle. You can’t fake that.”

elling fresh produce runs in Angelo Benandi’s family. His father used to bring fresh produce such as watermelons and pumpkins from his family farm to sell at New Orleans’ French Market, and that’s where he got his first taste of the produce business. After many years of helping his father sell produce in the French Market, Benandi went into business for himself, establishing A.J.’s Produce Co. Inc. in 1983 as a wholesaler of fruits and vegetables.

Providing the “personal touch” in its service to customers has always been important to Val’s Distributing Co. The Tulsa, Okla.-based company formed in 1976, shortly after the opening of a large regional grocery distribution center changed the way meat packers in its market interfaced with smaller retailers. This created a service niche Val’s Distributing was more than happy to fill.

“Up to that point, all meat packers had been dealing directly with stores, but afterward they no longer ran trucks directly to independent retailers,” co-owner Ken Grabow says. “Our founders, Val Brewer and Vern Langenberg, felt there was still a need for someone to deal directly to independent retailers, so we consolidated the stock of several meat companies into one place and started distributing directly to stores.”

There are many beer distributors, but Mid-South Distributing sets itself apart from the rest through its products and a passion for the business, CEO Rick Gerwe says. “This company has only two real assets: the brands we sell and the people that do it,” he says. “Our people know how to work.”

The Tullahoma, Tenn.-based Mid-South distributes domestic, import and craft brands from multiple brewers, including MillerCoors LLC, Crown Imports LLC, Heineken and Pabst Brewing Co. Gerwe says the operation of his company has been a family affair entirely.


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