The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Fresno District Office announced that Les and Cheri Casey, owners of Mid Valley Foods Inc. in Oakdale have been selected as the 2012 Central California Small Business Person of the Year.
The award presentation for Mid Valley Foods, Inc. will be held on May 22, at 3:30 p.m. during a reception at the Gene Bianchi Community Center, 110 S. Second Ave.
Annually, SBA honors Central California entrepreneurs for their contributions to the economy. Small businesses have proven, year after year, to be the greatest sources of innovation, jobs and growth for California’s economy.
The Small Business Person of the Year award recognizes a business owner who exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit and honors his or her individual contributions to the community. Mid Valley Foods was selected after a competition held among businesses located within the 15 Central California counties served by the Fresno SBA. The Alliance Small Business Development Center of Modesto nominated Mid Valley Foods for the award.
“The Small Business Administration is very proud of the tremendous growth and success that Mid Valley Foods has achieved. This company serves as a role model for other small business entrepreneurs,” said Carlos G. Mendoza, District Director for the Fresno SBA Office.
Upon notification that the Casey’s were selected for the award Les said, “Knowing there were several other hard-working, dedicated small business owners also nominated for this award we are extremely honored to receive this amazing recognition.”
Mid Valley Foods (formerly E&E Meats) was started in 1979 by Earl Casey. The company wholesales various processed and packaged meat products to grocery stores, restaurants and deli’s. In 2000, Les and Cheri Casey purchased the business from Les’s father. They incorporated, modernized and began to expand sales and distribution at a Riverbank facility. By 2005, it became apparent to the Casey’s that the business had grown to the limits of the old and antiquated facility.
The couple knew that not only would they need additional operational space in order for the company to be successful but they would also need to develop new innovative techniques to improve their overall operational efficiency.
Over several months the two met with the Alliance Small Business Development Center in Modesto to refine their business plan and loan proposal for construction of a new distribution facility. Alliance consultants also assisted to develop a strategic operational plan cutting many costs for the firm and improving operational efficiency.
Alliance SBDC Director Kurtis Clark said this about the Casey’s, “When Les and Cheri first came to the SBDC, they had a clear vision of what they knew their business could become but needed help securing financing and creating key business systems. With a strong desire to learn all they could and the tenacity to overcome numerous challenges they are making their vision for Mid Valley Foods a reality.”
In 2010 with the assistance of a SBA 7a guaranteed loan and the City of Oakdale the company was able to construct a 24,000 square foot building. The new building includes warehouse space, cold storage and offices. The new location for the wholesale foods distributor will allow for triple the distribution and has already grown to expand their company from 10 employees to a current work force of 27.
Today, Mid Valley Foods serves over 300 customers from multi-million dollar accounts to local small business and with less than a year in their new facility the company has already discussed the growing need for an expansion of refrigeration and freezer storage space.
“In this challenging economy we recognize that the goal to grow and survive any small business is certainly not for the faint of heart. We attribute our successes to a firm faith, a strong marriage partnership and the belief that this journey has taken us where we were meant to be. Although often exhausting, it has definitely been made easier by of the tremendous support and hard work of those true team players on our staff and other amazing people such as the Alliance staff and our general contractor, DeGraff Development, who all along the way have encouraged us in reaching our dreams and goals for Mid Valley Foods, Inc.,” said Cheri Casey.
Small Business Person of the Year nominations are judged on seven basic criteria: staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales and/or unit volume, current and past financial reports, innovativeness of product or service, response to adversity and evidence of contributions to community-oriented projects.