We are Celebrating 40 Years in Business!
Wow, that went fast! This year, we’re celebrating 40 years in a wonderful industry working with great partners. It seems like yesterday that we started out as a fresh new company in a huge industry with only a handful of food suppliers. Here is the journey we have taken to become the largest gourmet food gift company in the promotional products industry and-as long as I am tooting our horn, we have been fortunate enough to win 18 consecutive ASI Counselor Distributor Choice First Place Awards and 20 PPAI Supplier Star Awards, all with the help of our distributor partners.
It all started with simple idea: Tom Riordan, freshly out of college and selling cars, had an opportunity to go to Honduras where he built wood products for export to the United States. One of his products was a wooden box for food gift companies such as Hickory Farms of Ohio, Swiss Colony and Williams Sonoma.
“We would print the cheese company’s logo on the lid of that wooden box, and maybe some nice graphics. One night it occurred to me that if I could put a business's logo on that box and then fill it with cheese, like the cheese companies were doing, I’d have a pretty great business gift.”
“So off I went door-to-door, calling on my former automobile customers, and in 2 weeks sold $24,000 worth of these cheese packages. The next year I wrote $48,000 in business during 3 weeks in November.”
In 1980 Tom took on a partner who had a small cheese shop and cold storage facility. At the time the offices were located on Maple Ridge Road, in the heart of Wisconsin farm country. In a light bulb moment the name “Maple Ridge Farms” was adopted.
Needing national distribution to grow the business, they placed ads in major newspapers and signed up 30 sales reps for the holiday season. Unfortunately, those reps did not pan out and only did about half as much business as Tom did in the central Wisconsin area.
This is where the leap happened! Tom’s banker referred him to Bob Leklem, who worked for K-Promotions, a large distributor in Milwaukee. Bob told Tom about the ad-specialty marketplace and introduced him to Paul Rizzo, a multi-line rep from Chicago who helped Maple Ridge Farms get started in the industry. The rest is history!
Tom bought out his partner in 1996, and has since built a new 85,000 square foot building, and worked to build an outstanding team that delivers award-winning service and fresh, delicious products.
We have grown to be the largest food gift company in the Promotional Products industry. From one cheese package, we have expanded to over 500 products and our sales are now in the $10 - 20 million range.
Today we find ourselves 40 years in to a fun, energetic business. We have 23 dedicated full time team members, over 280 seasonal workers, an ever-expanding base of distributor partners, and outstanding multiline reps.
This year we also have two new executive vice presidents, Jodie Schillinger and Andy Witt, to help lead us to a new level in the Promotional Products industry. We are sourcing a variety of fun packaging ideas, and adding exciting flavors to our line. Stay tuned for the new food gift line unveiling this summer.
If you’re in Vegas for the 2019 PPAI show, stop by our booth #5855 to see our newly-updated booth and sample some of our new delicious food items. We look forward to celebrating with you!