Open the door to Cuizina Food Co. and you are greeted by the aroma of simmering sauces and soups. Housed in its new facility among the boutique wineries of Woodinville, Wash., this growing company has found a niche market in creation, production and distribution of gourmet products. Owner Ric Ferrera took his restaurant background, capitalized on the possibilities of internet marketing and soon found a need for production automation.

Assured by a solid customer base and steady growth, Ferrera researched machinery to fit his needs. Proximity was key, but not the only factor in his choice. Located just down the road in Bothell, Wash., Hinds-Bock Corp., another Northwest company specializing in food equipment, became Cuizina’s machinery partner. Protecting the customer’s unique ingredients were a part of the first discussions between Cuizina and Hinds-Bock sales manager Rod Gregg. Ferrera says, “Hinds-Bock absolutely guaranteed drip-free filling and gentle handling of our products, and has made good on that promise.”

The challenges of protecting a customer’s product are not unique for Hinds-Bock. “We engineer and manufacture custom equipment for special needs,” Gregg says. To answer Cuizina’s questions about how to manage progressive growth, the Hinds-Bock team was careful to use standard equipment that could be gradually implemented. A former and sealer were recommended.

Standard SP-64 single-piston fillers with the addition of custom spouting were tested successfully. Managing machinery acquisition to parallel the growth of its market base became a requirement. Eventually production space was acquired to make room for increased production. Moving forward from its original purchase of a single-piston filler, Cuizina gradually added new lines.

Erik Bugge, vice president of Cuizina, used the term “consultive manufacturer” to describe the company’s partnership with customers. “Customers bring us their own sauces or ask us to create for them. Our aim is to always produce quality product with quality ingredients.” With an extensive nutritional database, Cuizina can provide nutritional analysis as well. The company gathers fresh ingredients from across the country, spices from around the world, and puts it all together. Products ranging from 2-ounces to 64-ounces are ready to ship frozen to suppliers, distributors or direct to the customer within hours of their creation.

With its main emphasis on their product, Cuizina needs to be able to know its machinery is reliable. Because equipment is standardized, parts are interchangeable between machines. According to Ferrera, the availability of ready parts, a user-friendly service manual and a responsive have made this partnership valuable. “New tastes and new market demands are constantly a challenge. We rely on our machinery to help us meet deadlines,” he says. Cuizina operates with a just-in-time inventory system which requires reliability.

Both Cuizina and Hinds-Bock have met the challenges of progressive growth. Hinds-Bock has been a machinery builder for more than 30 years and Ric Ferrera has been creating special food aromas for more than 25 years. Hinds-Bock equipment is USDA approved and always has been designed with ease of sanitation and maintenance in mind. Cuizina operates under the USDA HACCP Program. With good management, enthusiastic and well-trained staff, and solid partnerships, they have each survived national economic fluctuations. Ric Ferrera remembers, “After 9/11 people tended to seek out ‘comfort foods’ and our products met that need.” Automation has only enhanced that ability to bring those products to market.

For further information please contact, the Cuizina Food Co.; Web site: ; or the Hinds-Bock Corp.; Web site: .