Cooking up success Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009
Winner
Retail Products & Services

It only makes sense that a company called National Food Group Inc. would have one of its most pivotal moments documented on a napkin.

Sean Zecman spent his youth dreaming of the risk/reward involved in a future career on Wall Street. But while he was dreaming, his father was building a small food company from the basement, a company that got its start when the elder Zecman saw a pie company discarding pie slices that were cosmetically imperfect. Suddenly, a market was realized: Large institutional customers such as prisons and schools would be ideal customers for such imperfect products.

When Zecman returned home from college, he joined his father’s company temporarily. Soon after, as he became fully involved with the company, a competitor took notice and made his father a lucrative offer to buy the business.

Zecman faced a fork in the road: Move on, or match the offer? After a sleepless night thinking about whether he should match the offer to keep the company, Zecman and his father shared a few drinks and talked about what he should do. During that conversation, memorialized on a napkin, the two came up with a plan for Zecman to offer up all of his assets to obtain the necessary financing.

Since that moment in 2002, NFG has grown to more than 4,000 customers nationwide, based on strong relationships that Zecman has brokered with large food manufacturers.

NFG has also taken risks to move forward by developing its own menu. The company’s group of nutritionists engineer food such as chicken nuggets that are low in fat and high in protein. These new products give NFG leverage to be aggressive in bringing in more large institutions as customers.

How to reach: National Food Group Inc. (734) 453-4544 or www.nationalfoodgroup.com