Sysco Buys Out Norman Foods

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (January 20, 2011)—Norman Foods, a home-grown, family-run company that has operated a food-distribution service in Battle Creek, Mich. for more than eight decades, was acquired by a longtime regional competitor--international food-service giant Sysco.

The Battle Creek office will remain open with a sales, operations and management staff of 12 former Norman employees hired by Sysco to represent the new owner's Grand Rapids operation, he said. Another former Norman employee was hired to represent Sysco's Detroit operation.

Jeff Norman would not comment about the acquisition. He and other staff at Norman Foods referred all inquiries to Sysco's representatives. Norman's father, company founder Wayne Norman, died in 2006 at age 85, and the elder Norman's wife, Bobbie, died in 1999.

All inventory from Norman Foods was being moved to Sysco's warehouse in Grand Rapids, Wilson said. Wilson said the shift to the new distribution center should be completed today.

Norman's Division Street warehouse is being closed but is being retained by the Norman family and is not part of the asset-purchase agreement, Wilson said.

Wilson said he wasn't aware of the details of any severance packages being offered to employees who lost their jobs, but said it was likely they would be compensated for accrued vacation time and what they had earned through the company's profit-sharing plan.

"Sysco is excited at the opportunity to expand our presence and reach in Southwest Michigan," Wilson said. "Norman Foods and the Norman family are well-respected by their customers and the communities they serve, and we are pleased that they are joining the Sysco family.

"We are also eager to further partner with Norman's customers, who will continue to be served by many of the same food-service professionals with same commitment to provide the highest quality products and service," he said. "Additionally, these customers will benefit from the breadth and depth of what the world's largest and leading food-service distributor can offer."

Over the years, Norman Foods' customers have included such outlets as the Ritzee restaurants, Western Michigan University, the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team and, more recently, FireKeepers casino in Emmett Township.

Trucks bearing the Norman signature on their sides have delivered items ranging from steaks to celery, mops and floor cleaner since the company was founded on just $400 that Wayne Norman brought back from his U.S. Navy service in World War II.

Sysco is a nationwide marketer and distributor of food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, hotels, inns and other food-service and hospitality businesses, many of them in the Battle Creek area.

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