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Guida-Seibert Dairy Company

Guida-Seibert Dairy Company


433 Park Street
New Britain, Connecticut 06051
U.S.A.
Telephone: (860) 224-2404
Toll Free: (800) 832-8929
Fax: (860) 612-3386
Web site: http://www.supercow.com

Private Company
Incorporated: 1886
Employees: 300
Sales: $130 million (2004 est.)
NAIC: 311411 Frozen Fruit, Juice, and Vegetable Manufacturing; 312111 Soft Drink Manufacturing; 312112 Bottled Water Manufacturing; 311511 Fluid Milk Manufacturing; 311512 Creamery Butter Manufacturing; 311520 Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert Manufacturing; 422430 Dairy Product (Except Dried or Canned) Wholesalers

Guida-Seibert Dairy Company, which does business as Guida's Milk & Ice Cream, is a leading New England dairy. Family-owned for generations, the company has strived to stay on top of the latest processing and packaging technologies and prides itself on its 18-day shelf life for milk. Other products include ice cream mix, fruit drinks and juices, and bottled water. Guida's consistently ranks among the top 100 dairy processors in the United States. Its more than 200 trucks deliver to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, parts of New Jersey, and New York State.

The Guida family launched the business in the 1930s and acquired the venerable Seibert Dairy after World War II. While much about the business, including its family ownership, has remained the same after several decades, the company has diligently adopted the latest technological advancements in production, packaging, and distribution. It has also rolled out new products, such as fruit drinks, and novel containers in order to meet changing tastes.

ORIGINS

The Guidas were immigrants from Poland who started a dairy farm in Connecticut. It was Alexander S. Guida, Jr., and his brother Frank (two of 13 siblings) who built the business into a modern commercial dairy. They began with a single sales route started in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression. Al Guida had dropped out of school after the sixth grade to go into business.

In 1947, the brothers acquired the Seibert Dairy. This had been established in 1886; its plant became the main site for Guida's. Guida's merged with Radway's Dairy of New London, Connecticut, in 1966. Radway's had been formed in 1918 by Guy F. Radway. The bottling plant it moved to in 1929 was later used as a distribution center by Guida's. An associated operation, Guida's Bay State Dairy Company, was formed through the purchase of the Daylight Dairy and Deary Brothers, both of Massachusetts.

Guida's was found to be one of several dairies found guilty conspiring to overcharge Connecticut school districts in the 1980s. The company was fined $500,000. On a more altruistic note, the dairy was one of the first to print pictures of missing children on its milk cartons.

By the time of Alexander Guida, Jr.'s, death in August 1990, Guida-Seibert Dairy Company had become New England's largest independent dairy, with revenues of $100 million a year and a fleet of roughly 200 trucks. It employed 300 people. Bernard Guida was named president and CEO in February 1991.

ON THE FAST TRACK IN 1992

Around 1992, the company formed an independent subsidiary, Fast Trac Inc., to market a new line of juices and juice drinks. These were packaged in new gable-top cartons designed by Montreal's FBI Brands Ltd. The five-layer packaging and post-pasteurization process allowed the drinks to be shelf stable. Orange juice used in the Fast Trac drinks was shipped from Florida in concentrated form in refrigerated tankers. It was reconstituted and pasteurized by Guida's.

Guida's prided itself on its meticulous attention to quality control. It was able to begin using an 18-day freshness code on its fluid milk in the mid-1990s, compared to an industry standard of 12 days. To achieve these results, Guida's tested incoming tanker loads of raw milk for temperature, microbes, and other parameters. The processing line was computer-controlled. Unlike its rivals, Guida's sterilized its post-pasteurization system on a daily basis using hot water.

The company introduced its Supercow mascot around this time. The caped, masked cartoon cow was a hit and appeared on a variety of marketing materials, clothing, and promotional items; an actor even suited up as the character to make in-person appearances on behalf of the dairy. Its creator, local artist Richard Lucent, threatened to sue Guida in 1998 seeking a share of its success.

In 1999, Guida's revenues were about $90 million and growing rapidly, according to figures in the trade publication Dairy Field. Sales rose to $125 million in 2000 and continued to rise through the next year at double digit rate. At the same time, however, president and CEO Alexander (Al) Guida III complained of difficult business conditions forcing 13 job cuts at its New London, Connecticut, distribution center.

Guida also complained of a constant drain on the company's finances from missing milk crates. Guida's had begun using plastic crates in 1973; as it grew so had the losses associated pilferage. In 2002 Guida told the Hartford Courant it cost $500,000 to replace 330,000 crates every year. The company had a dedicated employee tracking them down.

Another major expense was gasoline. Not helping matters, the cash-strapped state of Connecticut increased its diesel fuel tax 44 percent in 2002.

EXPANDING FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Surviving the latest of many waves of consolidation in the industry, Guida's kicked off a two-part expansion in 1999. It expanded its main plant by 50,000 square feet, allowing it to extend its distribution to new territory. A few years later, the company expanded its blending and pasteurizing operations there. Though the plant had been expanded many times, its facade dated back to the Seibert Dairy.

Guida's was attempting to double in size. The growth push prompted the traditionally debt averse company to obtain financing; it was spending about $8 million on upgrades. It acquired more land inside the city of New Britain in 2004 with plans to relocate an out-of-town storage facility there.

COMPANY PERSPECTIVES


Committed to complete customer satisfaction through service, quality, and innovation. We continuously strive to be the leader in our industry while retaining the personal touch. Guida's Milk & Ice Cream is one of the largest independent dairies in New England. Since 1886 Guida's has had the reputation of supplying the finest products and service to our large customer base. With a fleet of over 200 vehicles, Guida's Milk & Ice Cream delivers fresh dairy and dairy related products throughout Southern New England. Our service area includes Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, northern New Jersey and New York State including Long Island. Emphasis on quality control cannot be overstated.

Around 2002, the company introduced a single-serving, 12-ounce plastic bottle as a more convenient alternative to the larger, traditional pint. The new smaller size was called the "Super Solo." These were a convenient receptacle for the company's flavored milks, including varieties as exotic as blueberry. The plant then had nine bottling lines.

ORGANIC IN 2004

Guida's received organic certification in 2004 and entered a co-processing partnership with the Organic Valley Family of Farms. Organic Valley was a cooperative of more than 600 farmers that had the country's top selling brand of organic milk on the Eastern seaboard.

KEY DATES


1886:
Seibert Dairy is established.
1918:
Radway's Dairy opens in New London, Connecticut.
1947:
Alexander Guida, Jr., and his brother Frank acquire Seibert Dairy.
1966:
Guida's merges with Radway's Dairy.
1990:
Alexander Guida, Jr., dies; annual sales are about $100 million.
1991:
Bernard Guida is named president and CEO.
1999:
Revenues are about $90 million.
2000:
New Britain, Connecticut, processing facility is expanded by 50,000 square feet.
2004:
Guida's receives organic certification.

Guida's was continuing to invest in technological improvements. A new robotic palletizer took out much of the physical labor involved in preparing milk jugs for shipment. The company also installed a supply chain management system after one of its large grocery customers required it to adopt scan-based trading methods.

Frederick C. Ingram

PRINCIPAL COMPETITORS

Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Holdings, Inc.; Garelick Farms Inc.; HP Hood LLC.

FURTHER READING

Abrams, Bernard, "Compact Labeler Adds Big Impact," Packaging Digest, December 2002, p. 34.

"Application: New Sleever Helps Guida-Seibert with Single Serve Makeover," Dairy Foods, October 1, 2002, p. 53.

Bardic, Allison, "Growth Surge," Dairy Field, January 2001, p. 28.

"Cartons Aid Search," Valley Independent (Monessen, Pa.), January 28, 1985.

"Deaths: Alexander Guida, Owned Dairy in Sturbridge," Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), August 30, 1990, p. C6.

"Deaths: Alexander S. Guida Jr.," Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), August 31, 1990, p. C6.

"Fine in School-Milk Case," New York Times, July 9, 1994, Financial Sec., p. 1.

Foote, Andrea, "A Full Sleeve at Full Speed," Beverage World, October 15, 2002, p. 79.

"Frank Guida, Co-Founder and Past President of New Britain, Conn.-based Guida's Dairy, Died December 9 at Age 78," Dairy Field, January 2004, p. 12.

Fusaro, Dave, and Sue Markgraf, "Dairy's Top 5 Challenges," Dairy Foods, August 1, 1998, p. 66.

Gianatasio, David, "MD&C Milks TV for Guida Dairy," adweek.com, September 30, 2003.

"Guida Helps Bring the Cows Home," Dairy Foods, January 1, 2004, p. 20.

"Guida's Wants Those Crates in Your Garage," Associated Press State & Local Wire, October 4, 2002.

Holtz, Jeff, "As Diesel Goes Up, Businesses Say Prices May Follow," New York Times, November 20, 2002, Connecticut Sec., p. 10.

Honer, Clem, "Guida's Silver Lining," Dairy Foods, June 1987, p. 49.

Kaplan, Karen, "New Britain, Conn.-based Dairy Operation Cuts Jobs in New London," Day (New London, Conn.), May 10, 2001.

Klimkiewicz, Joann, "Employee Sues Milk Company for Civil Rights Violations," Hartford Courant, May 17, 2005.

Larson, Melissa, "New Line Installed for 'Can't-Miss' Juice Pack," Packaging, October 1992, p. 51.

Lingle, Rick, "Package of the Year Redefines the Gable Top," Prepared Foods, April 15, 1992, p. 38.

"Meridian Artist Looks to Milk Guida-Seibert," Associated Press State & Local Wire, August 17, 1998.

Munoz, Hilda, "Heat Blamed for Leak; Ammonia Sends Two to Hospital," Hartford Courant, July 29, 2006, p. B3.

"News Accounts Lead to Return of Purloined Milk Crates," Associated Press Newswires, October 5, 2002.

"Organic Valley and Guida Partner Up," Ice Cream Reporter, July 20, 2004, p. 1.

"Palletizer Does Double Duty: High-Speed Robotic Palletizer at Guida's Milk & Ice Cream Packs a Wide Range of Case Sizes on Two Pallets Simultaneously," Packaging Digest, April 2006, p. 46.

Reiter, John, "Juice in the Fast Lane," Dairy Foods, May 1, 1992, p. 81.

"Second Nature," Dairy Field, June 2001, p. 32.

Smith, Pamela Accetta, "Independently Wealthy," Dairy Field, May 2004.

Swift, Deborah Petersen, "A Once Traditional Industry of Farming Is Turning High Tech," Associated Press Newswires, September 29, 2000.

Thomson, Nancy, "Schools Don't Object to Asking Dairy to Report Use of Synthetic Hormone," Journal Inquirer, May 28, 1994, p. 20.

"U.S. Welcomes a Post-Pasteurization Gabletop," Packaging Digest, July 1992, p. 36.

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