Giovanni CEO Chosen as NYS Small Business Person of the Year

Posted 10.02.13

Loan: Uncategorized

On May 6, 2013 the U.S. Small Business Administration selected Louis J. DeMent, CEO and vice president of Giovanni Food Company (GFC) based in Syracuse, N.Y., as the New York State winner of the 2013 SBA Small Business Person of the Year.  Nominated by the Greater Syracuse Business Development Corporation (GSBDC), DeMent was chosen for the award based on GFC’s growth in sales and number of employees, staying power, response to adversity as well as its contributions to the community.

Giovanni Food Company has been making pasta sauces since 1934, when the DeMent family first opened their Italian-style restaurant in Oswego, NY. The DeMents began producing sauces on a larger scale in the 1950s before eventually expanding into other tomato-based product lines. Second-generation owner Jack DeMent led the transition to a larger facility in Liverpool in 2006 with financing assistance from GSBDC, Central New York Enterprise Development Corporation and NBT Bank. Within a year, Jack passed away unexpectedly and his 34-year-old son Louis stepped forward to lead the family business.

By 2009, GFC was bursting at the seams again, even producing some product batches at another Syracuse tomato product manufacturer. When that facility became available for sale later in the year, Lou seized the opportunity to gain the additional space the company needed. Through the collaboration of GSBDC and NBT Bank, financing was provided by accessing the SBA 504 and 7(a) loan programs to purchase the manufacturing plant and its equipment, increasing capacity from one to three modern production lines.

Today, GFC products can be found on grocery and specialty store shelves across the U.S. The company also produces salsas and pasta, pizza, and barbecue sauces for many private label customers who distribute the products worldwide. Under Lou DeMent’s leadership, sales have increased 49% over the past three years and the number of employees has grown to 68.

CEO Lou DeMent received the Syracuse District and New York State awards at SBA’s annual awards luncheon on May 6 at The Doubletree Hotel in Syracuse. DeMent also competed for the national award at SBA’s National Small Business Week celebration on June 21 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Although Lou was not chosen for this distinction, GSBDC wishes to congratulate Lou on his accomplishments, and is proud to have the opportunity to work with him and his very talented team at GFC.