CHOICE FOOD GROUP BUYS FORMER HEINZ PACKAGING PLANT
Nashville, Tenn. (May 17, 2006) – Choice Food Group, a privately-held investment company that focuses its efforts on the food industry, has made another investment in Nashville. It’s the fourth in a stream of acquisitions that is positioning Choice Food Group as a leading food manufacturer and distributor within Middle Tennessee, say company officials.
Effective May 1, 2006, Choice Food Group acquired a Nashville packaging plant that previously housed manufacturing operations for Portion Pac, Inc., a H. J. Heinz Corp. subsidiary. The plant manufactured portion control and bulk food service items at its facility, located at 189 Spence Lane in Nashville. Terms of the deal and the sales price were not disclosed.
Steven Schiraldi and Ron Brown, two longstanding managers each with over 25 years experience in the food manufacturing industry, are to be credited for making this deal happen. They had spent the last six years in senior management positions at Portion Pac’s packaging facility in Nashville.
“When we first learned that the plant was going to shut down, Ron and I felt there was an opportunity for us to maintain the operations of this facility,” said Schiraldi. “With our contacts, we began to explore our options and were fortunate enough to be introduced to Choice Food Group.”
“As details unfolded, the deal became more attractive because of the potential for management continuity with Ron and Steve, and the plant being a local facility,” said Jerry Walker, chief executive officer of Choice Food Group. “Together, they have over 50 years of food manufacturing experience and know this facility and its capabilities inside out. Their passion to make this deal happen became our motivation to see this deal through.”
As a result of the partnership, a plan emerged to organize a new subsidiary called Choice Food of America, Inc., specializing in customer food solutions. Brentwood resident Steven Schiraldi was named vice president of operations and Mt. Juliet resident Ron Brown was named vice president of sales, marketing and logistics. The new company now employs over 50 skilled manufacturing workers from Portion Pac’s Nashville workforce.
“The day the plant ceased operations doing business as Portion Pac in Nashville was the day that we transitioned over as Choice Food of America,” said Philip Connelly, president of Choice Food of America, Inc. who also serves as president of Vietti Foods Company, Inc., another manufacturing company of Choice Food Group. “We were able to keep many jobs in tact and the facility remained operational during this transition, which meant that our customers were not affected by the change.”
Choice Food of America will continue to produce items for food service distributors across the continental United States and for restaurant chains, such as Shoney’s and Pizza Hut. Choice Food of America also will maintain production of ingredients for other processors, with focus continuing on salad dressings, sauces and dry-blend coatings and breadings.
“Obtaining a second manufacturing facility is an important part of Choice Food Group’s strategy to strengthen and grow our food manufacturing business,” said Walker. “We also see Choice Food of America as an excellent complement to our existing Choice Food Group businesses and our wholesale food distribution sector, opening the doors to new business opportunities in the Middle Tennessee region.”
“Steve Schiraldi and I are very fortunate to have been presented this opportunity to partner with Choice Food Group,” said Ron Brown. “We are proud to become a part of a company and management team that shares in our vision.”
Choice Food Group specializes in wholesale food service distribution of broad line products through its Choice Food Distributors, Inc., and the manufacturing and marketing of canned food products through Vietti Foods Company, Inc. With the addition of Choice Food of America, Choice Food Group now employs over 150 skilled food service employees, and has over 170 years of combined business experience and competence in the food service industry among its senior management staff.
Choice Food Group has invested in three other food companies other the past 18 months. During 2005, Choice Food Group invested in two long-standing food service distributors, Nashville Egg, Inc. and Gibson Food Products, Inc., merging the operations of the two companies to form Choice Food Distributors, Inc. (www.choicefood.com), an independent wholesale food service distributor of broad line products.
In December 2005, Choice Food Group invested in Vietti Foods Company, Inc., a 108-year-old manufacturer and marketer of canned food products, to provide a manufacturing side to its food distribution business. Vietti Foods Company, Inc. (www.viettichili.com) maintains a USDA-inspected manufacturing facility in Nashville producing canned products, including chilis, stews, pastas, soups, hash, beans & franks, beans & rice and sauces.
ABOUT STEVEN SCHIRALDI Steven Schiraldi was named vice president of operations for the newly-formed Choice Food of America where he will be responsible for the daily manufacturing operations of the plant, including quality control, maintenance & engineering, inventory planning, purchasing, safety, environmental & sanitation, and warehousing as well as the administrative functions such as accounting & budgeting, capital expenditures, management of information systems, and human resources & workers compensation. He previously served as plant manager of Portion Pac, a division of H.J. Heinz Co. LP for the past six years. Schiraldi has over 24 years of experience in food manufacturing with such food consumer giants as Borden. He has transitioned through five company acquisitions during that period of time which has garnered him facility experience from plants located in Long Island, New York; Chambersburg, Pa.; Jacksonville, Fla. to his current post in Nashville, Tenn. His career positions started as mechanic, maintenance supervisor and led to management positions as maintenance/engineering manager, production manager. He holds a degree in computer technology from State University of New York.
With part of the change over from Portion Pac to Choice Food of America comes the conversion of product labels. Pictured are company officials of Choice Food of America meeting to inspect some of the new product labels that will replace Portion Pac’s “Taster Pleaser’s” product line. They are, left to right: Ron Brown, vice president of sales, marketing & logistics; Philip Connelly, president of Choice Food of America, Inc. and Vietti Foods Company, Inc.; Jerry Walker, chief executive officer of Choice Food Group; and Steven Schiraldi, vice president of operations.