Rise BakingRise Baking Company has earned its clients’ trust by making them winners in the bakery category. By Alan Dorich

When some companies get larger, they lose their nimbleness when serving clients. Rise Baking Company has successfully avoided this fate, Senior Vice President of Sales Jeff Getzkin says. “We’ve been able to maintain exceptional service levels and grow with our customers,” he asserts.

One example, he notes, is how Rise can commercialize items quickly. Some companies take three to four months, but “we will jump through hoops and knock down walls to get products commercialized,” he declares.

Based in Minneapolis, Rise Baking Company provides baked cookies, cookie dough, crispy bars and artisan breads for in-store bakeries and foodservice clients. The company, which was formed from the merger of multiple legacy businesses, started with New French Bakery in 2013.

Rubies Pet ShopRubie’s Pet Shop Boutique unveils new pet costumes in response to a growing demand. By Kat Zeman

Fido is no longer man’s best friend. He’s a member of the family. That appears to be the consensus among the millennial generation, which is leading a pet-pampering movement that is becoming a very lucrative business for retailers who’ve noticed the trend.

Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique has noticed. In fact, the company has seen its pet costume sales grow by roughly 400 percent in the past five years.

“I’d say that the trend began when cats and dogs started to become more human with millenials,” Executive Vice President Howie Beige says. “Millenials seem to be spending more time interacting with their pets much like a parent would with a child. I’m amazed by this, but it’s wonderful.”

DoTerradoTERRA keeps close to the growers that produce its essential oils. By Alan Dorich

When doTERRA International started operations nearly a decade ago, it made a commitment to be the most trusted essential oil company in the world. The firm maintains that legacy to this day, Vice President of Corporate Relations and European Markets Kirk Jowers says.

Not only are doTERRA’s oils tested when they are harvested, “doTERRA has truly earned the title of ‘Most Tested, Most Trusted.’ You have to test it before you bottle it and test it again when you’re at that final stage of bottling,” he says. “It takes a dozen tests to ensure you get it [right].”

Based in Pleasant Grove, Utah, doTERRA offers more than 130 essential oils and oil-infused personal care and spa products, dietary supplements and healthy living products for emotional and physical wellness through independent distributors and wholesale customers. Founding Executives David Stirling, Emily Wright, Dr. David Hill and Greg Cook created the idea for the company after several decades of combined experience working in the essential oil industry.

Icon EyewearIcon Eyewear is exploring acquisition opportunities and expanding its business model. By Kat Zeman

Preparing for a bright future, Icon Eyewear has assembled plenty of shades. Although it’s already one of the largest private-label suppliers of sunglasses and readers in North America, the company is aiming higher.

Its plans include exploring acquisition opportunities, launching new e-commerce sites and closing deals with major global retailers. “We are aggressively looking for acquisition,” President Effy Zinkin says. “Icon has always grown organically, but we’ve been a very healthy company for a long time and we are in the market to acquire another reader or sunglasses brand.”

Icon Eyewear manufactures, supplies and imports sunglasses and readers for men and women. Privately owned and operated, it is known for an array of private-label, licensed and proprietary brands. Its private-label retailers – which make up roughly 65 percent of the company’s business - include Nordstrom, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, The Buckle, Ann Taylor, JC Penney, Kroeger, Costco, Target and Walmart.

Sunshine GasolineSunshine Gasoline Distributors continues to expand by holding on to its core values and remaining flexible in an ever-changing industry. By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

Thirty years ago, Maximo Alvarez seized the opportunity to purchase four underperforming gas stations in south Florida. Although many people told him it was not a wise decision, Alvarez knew the stations were in good locations and would thrive under the right management.

Today, Sunshine Gasoline Distributors is one of the largest distributors in the state, supplying more than 500 gas stations and owning about 350 of them. “March 19, 1987 has tremendous meaning to me because I was the one who purchased the locations,” Alvarez says. “A lot of people said it wasn’t a wise decision because those locations weren’t any good. Coincidentally, my very first job in 1971 was as a field representative for an oil company. I was in charge of supervising 20 stations in the area. I knew those four stations were good sites, but just not managed properly.

“The oil industry executives at the time saw those locations as undesirable locations because they were not meeting their volume objectives,” he continues. “I was convinced they were good locations. I proved that correctly and they are still four excellent, grade-A locations 30 years later.”

WENCARWencar’s long-tenured and knowledgeable employees keep it in close contact with its independent convenience store customers. By Jim Harris

Every month, Wencar Vice President Keith Meschi hands out pins commemorating staff anniversaries. In August, one of those pins went to Nelgeene Taylor, a 31-year employee of the Corpus Christi, Texas, independent wholesale distributor.

Recognizing long-tenured employees is not uncommon for Meschi. “Most of our people have been here for 10 years or more, and our turnover rate is very low,” he says. “Everyone here knows our success stems from the way they do their jobs, which includes taking care of our customers in a special way.”

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Brothers Food MartBrothers Food Mart is looking to expand throughout the Gulf region. By Chris Kelsch

New Orleans, La., is a city known for many things, including food and music. Just as important, it is also known as a city that pulls together in times of crisis.

That is vitally important to Brothers Food Mart owner Eddie Hamdan, who oversees 45 convenience stores throughout the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. “We are really a part of the city of New Orleans,” Hamdan says. “And we try and get involved as much as we can.”

Getting involved means stepping up when needed. In February, New Orleans was hit with a devastating tornado, said to be the strongest to hit the city in recorded history. Hamdan notes Brothers Food Mart was there to aid the stricken community. “We took part in the recovery efforts,” Hamdan says, “providing food and other supplies as needed. We really try and do everything we can.”

Capital OilFuel supplier Capital Oil sees opportunity in the transportation and wholesale markets. By Tim O’Connor

Regulations can have unintended consequences, forcing companies to adapt or change their businesses to survive. Take the federal Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), a 2007 mandate dictating that biofuels such as ethanol needed to be blended with gasoline, resulting in E-10 gasoline that has 10 percent ethanol content. To ensure fuel producers and importers were meeting blending targets, the EPA created Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), a designated number that tracks the production of every gallon of ethanol-infused gasoline.

The EPA had assumed that only companies that produced or imported fuel would blend gasoline and ethanol, and therefore produce RINs. However, a loophole in the regulations allowed non-producers to become blenders and generate RINs, creating a market for RINs to be sold as commodities.

“Because these companies are not producers or importers, they do not need RINs to track the progress of the RFS mandate,” says Stanley Roberts, founder of Capital Oil.

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