Tennessee's Choice Food Makes Fourth Acquisition

Choice Food Group acquired on Monday, May 1, a local packaging plant that previously housed manufacturing operations for Portion Pac, Inc., a H. J. Heinz Corp. subsidiary. The plant manufactured portion control and bulk food service items at its facility, located at 189 Spence Lane in Nashville. Terms of the deal and the sales price were not disclosed.

Steven Schiraldi and Ron Brown, two long-term managers, each with over 25 years experience in the food manufacturing industry, initiated and coordinated this deal after hearing that the plant was slated for closure, Choice Food execs said. Schiraldi and Brown had spent the last six years in senior management positions at Portion Pac's packaging facility in Nashville.

"When we first learned that the plant was going to shut down, Ron and I felt there was an opportunity for us to maintain the operations of this facility," said Schiraldi. "With our contacts, we began to explore our options and were fortunate enough to be introduced to Choice Food Group."

"As details unfolded, the deal became more attractive because of the potential for management continuity with Ron and Steve, and the plant being a local facility," said Jerry Walker, ceo of Choice Food Group. "Together, they have over 50 years of food manufacturing experience and know this facility and its capabilities inside out. Their passion to make this deal happen became our motivation to see this deal through."

As a result of the partnership, a plan emerged to organize a new subsidiary called Choice Food of America, Inc., specializing in customer food solutions. Brentwood resident Schiraldi was named vice president of operations and Mt. Juliet resident Brown was named vice president of sales, marketing and logistics. The new company now employs over 50 craftsmen from Portion Pac's Nashville workforce.

"The day the plant ceased doing business as Portion Pac in Nashville was the day that we transitioned over as Choice Food of America," said Philip Connelly, president of Choice Food of America, Inc. who also serves as president of Vietti Foods Company, Inc., another manufacturing company of Choice Food Group. "We were able to keep many jobs in tact and the facility remained operational during this transition, which meant that our customers were not affected by the change."

Choice Food of America will continue to produce items for foodservice distributors across the continental United States and for restaurant chains, such as Shoney's and Pizza Hut. Choice Food of America also will maintain production of ingredients for other processors, with focus continuing on salad dressings, sauces and dry-blend coatings and breadings. The distribution arm of the company is Choice Food Distributors, a member of the All Kitchens unit of Progressive Group Alliance, Richmond, VA.

"Obtaining a second manufacturing facility is an important part of Choice Food Group's strategy to strengthen and grow our food manufacturing business," observed Walker. "We also see Choice Food of America as an excellent complement to our existing Choice Food Group businesses and our wholesale food distribution sector, opening the doors to new business opportunities in the Middle Tennessee region."

"Steve Schiraldi and I are very fortunate to have been presented this opportunity to partner with Choice Food Group," said Brown. "We are proud to become a part of a company and management team that shares in our vision."

(To read more about Choice Food, click here for the article in the April 14 edition of ID Report.)


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