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May 1, 2004
New Chamber Member Has Over 30 Year History in Food Distribution
By: Erinn Taylor
Source: Visalia Chamber Newspaper

Mid way through the new member orientation presented by Mike Cully, I had but one thought - this was a good idea. I gave a quick glance to Valley Food Service (VFS) owner and President Steve Singleton, who responded with a confirming nod that the new direction of the Visalia Chamber of Commerce would be a good fit for the long time broadline distributor.

After the orientation, Steve reinforced what was already apparent from his actions, "This is not the same Chamber I was a part of 10 years ago." Steve and VFS have had a long history of success in Tulare County, with the full service food service distributor's origins dating back to the 70's in Tulare. The company later had a couple interim locations in Visalia in the 80's, and finally settled in its current location in the Visalia Industrial Park in 1989. In fact, the Chamber was present for a ribbon cutting at the opening of the new facility in '89.

The warehouse has undergone two major expansions since building the original facility, and now bulges at the seams of the nearly 30,000 square foot facility it now occupies. VFS took a giant leap forward in 1991 when it was accepted into a co-op of regional food service distributors that provided VFS with tools and buying power it needed to compete with major corporate competitors that had a corner on the market. Steve has been recognized a number of times by the co-op, including serving several years on the buying and distributing boards, culminating in VFS being selected as the 2004 Dry Distributor of the Year out of the 160 nationwide members. Most recently VFS has been recognized by Assembly Leader Kevin McCarthy for contributions to entrepreneurialism and philanthropy in our community.

I joined VFS less than a year ago, making a transition from a technical field to a traditional bricks and mortar organization, and have been enthused to help push VFS in new and exciting directions. Not only has this been a new career for me, but it has been a unification with work and personal life as I have joined Steve, my Father-in-Law, in the family business. To me, a family business is only as strong as the relationships we build within our community, which is our focus in reuniting with the Chamber of Commerce. The forward thinking atmosphere that Mr. Cully and staff are bringing to Visalia is helping us collaborate on a new level with our local business community.

Our newest collaboration is the advent of a Food Show to be held at the Visalia Oaks Baseball Stadium on May 25, 2005. The show is for business owners and managers of Restaurants, Diners, Coffee Shops, Convenience Stores and other food service institutions, and will include a food tasting and buying show, a complimentary BBQ, and an Oaks home game versus the Modesto A's. We have had great success at our School Food Show in the past, focused on the more than 70 school districts that we currently service from Bakersfield to Modesto, and have no doubts that this show will share similar success. Children from the Boys and Girls Club of Tulare County will be attending the game, along with a group of exchange students brought to Visalia by the Visalia Rotary Clubs, as guests of VFS and our participating vendors.

For information on attending our Food Show, or for general questions about Valley Food Service, call us at (559) 651-9050 or look for Steve or myself at upcoming Chamber events.


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