In all my years in economic development I have had a few moments which I would call "aha" moments in which I was totally surprised and impressed. A few weeks ago I shared the experience I had touring the E.&J. Gallo Winery and glass plant. That was one of those moments. This past week I had another one. My history with Stanislaus Food Products didn't start last week. It started years ago when my wife and I were living in Pittsburgh. There is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh called the "Strip District." It is the old wholesale food district of the city where one can go and get the best quality ethnic foods that serve all the local restaurants.
There was a company there in the Strip District called Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, owned by the Sunseri family. My wife and I went there several times to buy what we thought were imported cheese and pasta sauce from Italy. Little did I know then that the pasta sauce that we had come to love was actually produced in Modesto, California by our own Stanislaus Food Products.
Fast forward 20 years. Here I am in Modesto, and I have the opportunity to tour the entire Stanislaus Food Products operation, from field to can. My gracious host took me out to a tomato farm where we experienced the harvesting machine scooping up the tomato plants, separating the tomatoes from the vines, sorting out the good tomatoes from those that were just not the best quality, and then depositing them in the trucks that would take them from the farm directly to the plant, less than an hour away.
Then we had the opportunity to tour the plant, to see the numerous quality checks. Everything about this company communicates quality. It's all about the taste. And the taste has to be the exact same every time. Small Italian restaurants are all about the taste, and therefore that's how Stanislaus Food Products has to be. All throughout the tour, I saw happy, loyal, hardworking employees who are committed to this fine company's ideals. Some of them have been working there more than 30 and 40 years. Many of the employees are multi-generational, meaning that their parents and grandparents also worked for Stanislaus Food products.
For me it was not only an "aha moment". It was validation that the Business Alliance focus on local companies is the right one. The next quest is to find those budding Stanislaus Food Products companies in the making and find a way to help them realize their dreams to put quality food products on the tables and in the hands of American families and families throughout the world.