Distributing success Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009
Master Entrepreneur of the Year

Looking back on it, Earl D. Ishbia was probably worthy of a promotion.

Ishbia, who today is CEO of meat wholesaling juggernaut Sherwood Food Distributors, long ago worked his way through college at a small meat distributing company. While there, he was willing to take on any task, and he eventually became responsible for taking weekly orders, which led to him selling more meat than anyone in the company.

Still, no one took much notice of Ishbia’s can-do attitude or his skills.

Tired of that game, he and his business mentor, Alex Karp, formed Regal Foods Corp. with a $10,000 investment. Again showing his willingness to do everything, Ishbia kept the books, loaded trucks and, at times, even made deliveries in those early days.

The early results were good. The long-term results were better: In 1987, when the company was only delivering beef and pork products, it merged with Orleans International, a local poultry distributor, to add a new product line and become Sherwood Food Distributors.

Since then, SFD has grown both through acquisition and organic growth, but Ishbia has never forgotten those early days. He still emphasizes doing the little things that have helped make SFD what it is today.

From that has come loyalty from both customers and employees, many of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years. And, perhaps in memory of that well-earned promotion that he never got, Ishbia and SFD are always looking for new opportunities. From bringing up a second generation of employees that includes both his son and Karp’s son, to transitioning into servicing cruise lines at SFD’s Miami operation, the company is constantly evolving.

Due to his efforts, Ishbia is also an Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009 finalist in the Distribution & Systems Management category.

How to reach: Sherwood Food Distributors, (313) 659-7300 or www.sherwoodfoods.com