Thomas Lipari’s first innovation at Lipari Foods Inc. came when he took a summer job at his father’s company, filling bottles with barbecue sauce. The first day, he filled bottles one at a time; by the end of the week, he discovered that with a few supplies, he could fill multiple bottles at once, building inventory and putting himself out of a job.
Today, he’s president and CEO, and his innovation hasn’t stopped. Through the 1990s, the deli business was booming and the food distributor supplied delis with hams and cheeses. But those items were perishable and there were no refrigerated trucks yet, so Lipari developed a system of insulated panels to keep food cold, making it the first company in the state to deliver frozen dough.
When the company began expanding its distribution range, Lipari developed a shuttle trucking system to address the constraint that drivers could only drive eight hours at a time. Under his system, a truck left the distribution center loaded with goods and drove four hours toward its destination; another truck with an empty trailer drove from the other direction. When they met, they switched trailers and turned around, with the empty truck returning to the distribution center to be loaded again.
Despite all his success, Lipari is always focused on the next growth opportunity. He believes that what has been accomplished in the Midwest can be duplicated in other regions, and that his family’s small business, which has grown into a sizable regional distributor, has the potential to develop into a national distribution network.
HOW TO REACH: Lipari Foods Inc., www.liparifoods.com or (586) 447-3500