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GenXYZ: Kristy Taddonio, 37

President, Mile Hi Specialty Foods, Mile Hi Foods and Mile Hi Bakery

Taddonio climbed the ranks of the McDonald’s distribution chain by demonstrating strength in sales and the ability to grow the company.

Your family has a rich history in Denver. What are some of the companies Mile Hi businesses work for?

In 1956, we were a produce distribution center when McDonald’s asked us to deliver potatoes. Soon, we became their sole distributor. McDonald’s and Starbucks are our biggest customers. Our businesses also partner with Wendy’s, Good Times, Red Robin, Noodles & Company, Quiznos, Chipotle and Einstein Bros.

Was it a given that you’d join the business?

I’m fourth generation, but no. It wasn’t a given at all. When I was growing up, I didn’t like the business. But when I got into college, my dad said, ‘Why don’t you try working here?’

Was there a moment when you knew?

Yes, and it happened when I was 25. I wrote my parents a letter, and I said, ‘I’m in. I want to take over the business. What do I need to do?’ Since then, I’ve worked in every position in the company. Well, my dad never let me drive a tractor-trailer, but nearly every position.

Did you study business in college?

I graduated from the University of Denver with degrees in mass communication and business. I wanted to learn about business, but I also knew I had to communicate well. I had people who questioned whether I could make it in college because I had a learning disability. I was always dubbed, ‘Not smart enough.’ But I had a teacher in high school who said, ‘Of course you’re going to college.’

Your husband, Cody Mullins, works for the company, as well. Is it a challenge, to separate home and work life?

My husband is the vice president of Mile Hi Specialty foods. We’ve worked together for 15 years. And honestly, because it’s been a family business, I’m very good at drawing the line between work and home.

What are the advantages of working for a family business?

We treat everyone like family: The people who work for us, and the customers. You take care of the people who make you successful.

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Maria Martin

Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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