Success at a Mile Hi

Denver and the broader Rocky Mountain region are home to many great family-owned businesses, each with a unique story to share. One of those companies is Mile Hi Foods, which has been providing name-brand restaurants with fresh produce, meats and baked goods for more than 100 years.

For any company hoping to grow and thrive these days, Mile Hi’s story can serve as an excellent example of achieving success, giving back, and partnering with the right companies to help.

Success Story

Mile Hi Foods was founded in 1913, when Michael Taddonio started a modest fruit and vegetable distribution business.

“He immigrated from Italy and would go door to door, selling his produce,” said Kristy Taddonio Mullins, president of Mile Hi Foods and Michael’s great-granddaughter. "He wrote the amount that his neighbors owed him on their picket fences.”

The business grew, and in 1956, when the first local McDonald’s opened, Mile Hi was offered the chance to supply the restaurant with fresh sacks of potatoes for its French fries. It’s a partnership that has not only endured, but also grown exponentially. Today, Mile Hi is the exclusive distributor for more than 360 McDonald’s in the Rocky Mountain, Northwest and Southwest regions.

“We’re lucky to have such a great partnership with McDonald’s,” Taddonio Mullins said. “It’s been a huge part of our success.”

Through its work with McDonald’s and other top-brand restaurants, Mile Hi has expanded into three different companies with a combined 635 employees. Mile Hi Foods serves McDonald’s restaurants exclusively, while Mile Hi Specialty Foods and Mile Hi Bakery provide services to dozens of other restaurants.

Mile Hi Specialty Foods services companies including Chipotle, Starbucks, Noodles and Company, Einstein’s Bagels and Quiznos. The company provides everything from distribution to warehousing to storage and delivery for more than 1,000 restaurants in 17 states.

Mile Hi Bakery, which recently moved into a new 128,000-square-foot facility, has the capacity to bake 5,600 dozen buns per hour. The plant is the first in the McDonald’s baking industry to be LEED Gold certified, meaning it meets stringent requirements for innovation, sustainability and energy efficiency.

“We wanted a bakery that was resource smart,” Taddonio Mullins said. “If we can reduce our energy use, it frees up capital for additional hiring and expansion.”

The bakery unit provides baked goods to McDonald’s as well as Red Robin and Wendy’s.

With growth and success has come acclaim. Mile Hi Specialty Foods recently won the Distributor of Choice Award from Noodles and Company, Einstein’s Bagel and Quiznos. And in 2013, ColoradoBiz Magazine ranked Mile Hi Specialty Foods as No. 1 on its list of the Top 100 Women-Owned Companies.

Local Commitment

The recognition hasn’t stopped Mile Hi from remembering those less fortunate, however. In 2010, the company created the Taddonio Family Foundation, which focuses on serving the needs of children. Each year, the foundation donates more than $300,000 to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Denver, Big Brothers Big Sisters and other organizations.

Additionally, the company donates all used computers and printers to Jefferson County Public Schools and gives excess food—anything that’s unusable for delivery and sanctioned for donation by the customer—to We Don’t Waste and the Denver Food Rescue.

Employees are also encouraged to give back. Mile Hi provides its staffers with monthly service opportunities. For example, a recent event involved building bikes for children participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We never want to forget our family’s core values,” Taddonio Mullins says. “Community service is an important part of who we are, and we want our company to reflect that.”

Business Advice

In order to both grow and give back, Mile Hi has been diligent about planning strategically and keeping its finances in order. Partnering with the right company is key, Taddonio Mullins says.

“We’ve worked with Crowe GHP Horwath for years, and they’ve been integral in keeping us on track,” she says. “Their help ensures that we’re making progress toward our goals now as well as in the future.”

Crowe GHP Horwath, a leading accounting services provider for the Rocky Mountain region, audits Mile Hi’s financials annually to ensure accuracy and make strategic recommendations. Crowe GHP Horwath also helped convert Mile Hi’s companies from C corporations to S corporations, explaining all of the nuances and benefits along the way, Taddonio Mullins says.

“They show us the whole picture, and they’ll even come to us whenever we need more personalized service and explanation,” she said.

Working with the right partners allows Mile Hi’s leadership to focus on other important success drivers, like customer service and employee development. The company prides itself on prioritizing clients, maintaining a strong work ethic and supporting the local community—all while preserving a sense of family.

“Our business was built on family,” Taddonio Mullins said. “And we keep that notion alive here at Mile Hi every single day.”

(Editor's note: This sponsored content was provided by Crowe GHP Horwath.)

Categories: Company Perspectives, Finance, Sponsored Content