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Mid Valley Foods: Portrait of success
Oakdale food distributors named Small Business Persons of the Year
mid valley
An employee at Mid Valley Foods offloads the days product from the dock and onto a pallet for storage until delivery to the client. Mid Valley Foods makes meat deliveries as far as the East Bay. - photo by KIM VAN METER / The Journal

If there ever was a testament to the power of hard work, determination and a belief that everything happens for a reason, Mid Valley Foods is that example.

Mid Valley Foods, Inc. is a family-owned wholesale meat and food distributor that recently relocated from Riverbank to Oakdale in the industrial area. It was an interesting — and often turbulent — journey from one zip code to the other, but as owners Les and Cheri Casey can attest, everything happened as it should’ve and they couldn’t be happier.

With a recession still dampening the spirits of business owners, Mid Valley Foods, Inc. has bucked the negative trend and rapidly surpassed their growth goals by simply adhering to their mission statement of becoming a leader in wholesale food distribution and setting the standard within the industry. And they’ve managed to do this with a measure of integrity that resounds within their core belief of being good employers.

The Caseys’ entrepreneurial spirit and contributions to the community have earned them recognition as they were named the 2012 Central California Small Business Persons of the Year.

Mid Valley Foods was selected after a competition held among businesses located within the 15 Central California counties served by the Fresno District of the U.S. Small Business Administration.  The Alliance Small Business Development Center of Modesto nominated Mid Valley Foods for the award. 

"The Small Business Administration is very proud of the tremendous growth and success that Mid Valley Foods has achieved. This company serves as a role model for other small business entrepreneurs,” said Carlos G. Mendoza, district director for the Fresno SBA Office.

"Knowing there were several other hard working, dedicated small business owners also nominated for this award we are extremely honored to receive this amazing recognition,” said Les Casey.

Mid Valley Food was founded by Earl Casey as E&E Meats in 1979 as a distribution company that only sold meat to local markets. In spite of humbling roots, the small company grew into a powerhouse within the wholesale food distribution industry through their singular focus on delivering quality products.

Les and Cheri Casey bought the business from Earl Casey and took the company into exciting, unchartered waters, knowing the potential for tremendous growth was there with the right guidance.

And the husband and wife team are more than pleased with the progress thus far.

“We’re tickled where we’re at,” former registered nurse Cheri Casey said, smiling.

According to Cheri, the secret to their success is a deceptively simple formula: “Buy right, buy smart and remain competitive,” Cheri said. “We work six days a week with early and late hours. It’s not just a business and not just a job. We love what we do.”

But make no mistake, success has not come easily, nor has it traveled in a straight line.

“Anything and everything can affect the cost of meat,” Cheri said.

From the high cost of diesel fuel for their fleet of nine tractor trailers to the cost of electricity for the refrigeration, there are many variables that on any given day can stack against the small business owner in the wholesale food industry but the tenacity of the Casey family has served them well, enabling them to continuously employ 28 people, grow exponentially, and still smile at the end of the day.

“It’s a challenge to have a dream of what you know this can be,” Cheri admitted of the struggles inherent to being an up-and-coming business in an industry squeezed by many different entities and circumstances. “But we take one day at a time and always look for the positives.”

The move, which almost didn’t happen, came about in a circuitous manner but only solidified Cheri’s belief that everything happens as it should.

The new building, built by a local construction company, DeGraff Development Inc., was a boon to Mid Valley Foods as the company went from two loading docks to eight with improved flooring and increased storage capacity and the ability to grow beyond the small operation of its origin.

“We’re still molding into the expenses caused by the infrastructure improvement but the efficient building is a plus as is the dock and ability to move equipment around. We’re still growing but we have a way to go before we’re bursting at the seams,” Cheri said of the new 25,000 square foot building. “We’re very pleased with the progress and without a doubt we’ll be expanding before we anticipated.”