First impressions sometimes can be a little misleading.

In the case of Good Wives, a nearly 30-year-old frozen hors d’oeuvres company in Lynn, Mass., the company’s name has nothing to do with submissive types serving their husbands. 

First impressions sometimes can be a little misleading.

In the case of Good Wives, a nearly 30-year-old frozen hors d’oeuvres company in Lynn, Mass., the company’s name has nothing to do with submissive types serving their husbands. Rather, says Chief Executive Officer Chris Collias, “it was a term applied to a married Puritan woman that implied industry and integrity.”

For a company that refuses to compromise on its policy of making products by hand using high-quality ingredients - such as all-natural fillo dough - “industry and integrity” are apt descriptors.

“Our goals have always been very simple,” Collias says. “Make high-quality hors d’oeuvres. It’s why we taste test every batch we make. If we compromise on quality to save a few pennies here or there, then we lose what we’ve built up over the years. Our customers rely on us to provide them with only the best, so that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

This tradition of turning out high-quality product - no matter what the cost - has been in place since 1979, when Good Wives founder Nina Robertson first began making fillo dough hors d’oeuvres in her Marblehead, Mass., kitchen.

Today, this former cottage business rings up approximately $8 million per year in foodservice and retail sales , and operates out of a 13,000-square-foot plant in Lynn, Mass. Good Wives now makes more than 100 products for foodservice and nearly 70 retail SKUs - including Fillo Triangles, Cups, Stars, Flowers, Wheels and Rolls; Puff Pastries; Focaccia Flatbreads; Mini Quiches and Tartlets; Profiteroles; Skewers and other items.

And the company always is adding to its line of trans-fat-free products.

“We typically roll out new items at the beginning of the year, however, our chefs are always busy coming up with new ideas and flavor combinations, so it’s not out of the ordinary for us to introduce anywhere between three and five new products throughout the year,” Collias says. “This year alone we rolled out 27 new items in January and have introduced four more products for foodservice as well as two more items for retail.”

Among the January 2008 introductions was a new protein line including items such as Beef Wellington - which won the “Outstanding Perishable Foodservice Product” category at this year’s National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s annual Fancy Food Show and sofi awards. Another winner was one of Good Wives’ best sellers, Mushroom Profiteroles, in the “Outstanding Frozen Savory” category.

Says Collias: “We’ve participated in the Fancy Foods Show for years now, and we’ve won Gold Awards previously, but winning two awards in one year - especially for the new Beef Wellington - has been fantastic.”

Good Wives had still more good news this year - the company announced that it will move into a new, 22,000-square-foot production facility in January 2009. The plant in Wilmington, Mass., will accommodate the company’s growing demand.

“Production space, hands down [has been our biggest challenge this year],” Collias says. “In January ’09, when we move into our new facility, we’re positive that those issues will be addressed.”

Collias adds that the new facility will have easy-access loading docks and an increased frozen storage area.

But, he notes, at least one thing will remain the same at the new plant - product still will be made by hand.

“We pride ourselves on the quality items that we produce and our biggest assets are the skillful hands of our production staff,” he says.

It’s communicating this point to consumers that Collias says is one of Good Wives’ biggest obstacles.

“It’s not a challenge on the foodservice side, because once a chef has tasted our product, they put it on their menu with confidence. The average retail consumer, however, thinks about price first, quality second, and typically they get what they pay for.

“For the people that read the labels, who understand the value of trans-fat-free, all-natural product, it’s an easy decision to make. Making more consumers understand that is what’s challenging, especially in the tighter economic times we’re currently living in,” he says.

That said, Good Wives also has found a way to better market its product in the current economy.

“As economic times continue to keep consumers looking for an alternative, more and more we see store brand product sales increasing,” Collias says. “By offering an increased value at a competitive price, we believe that manufacturing private label product for retail stores will be a huge opportunity for us.”

Award-winning Beef Wellington was launched in January.


Good Wives

Location: Lynn, Mass.

Top executive(s):Chris Collias, CEO

Founded: 1979

Annual sales:$8 million 

Primary product(s):  Frozen appetizers - Fillo Triangles, Cups, Stars, Flowers, Wheels and Rolls, Puff Pastries, Focaccia Flatbreads, Mini Quiches and Tartlets, Profiteroles, Skewers and specialty items.

Brands: Good Wives, private label

Distribution: National

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