The Past, Present and Future
The John Zidian Company was founded in 1948 by the late John Zidian, Sr. as a family owned and operated food wholesaler in Youngstown Ohio. During the 1950's, distribution of an extensive and growing Italian food portfolio expanded beyond the local market to include northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania retailers. During the 1960's, John Zidian's innovative marketing concept unknowingly was the beginning of the vertical integration of food manufacturing into the company. John Zidian, Sr. began processing large cheese blocks into consumer friendly grated packaging options and the seed of what was eventually to become Summer Garden Food Manufacturing was planted.
In 1973, Tom Zidian, current President and CEO of the John Zidian Group Companies, began his career working with his father and in the 1980's assumed ownership and management control. Concurrently, as all the divisions of the organization grew the realization of a pasta sauce manufacturing became a reality. Tom purchased a small convenient store (3500 sq ft) in close proximity to his family home and the warehouse, and with a limited staff began producing premium quality pasta sauces under the Gia Russa brand. Literally, authentic homemade tasting sauces were being produced a few steps from his parents’ home kitchen. The standards were high and the stakes were great but the belief that the consuming public, like himself, was not satisfied with what the category offered, motivated and reinforced his vision for the entire John Zidian Group Companies. During the 1980's the company grew sales and distribution nationally of its privately owned branded Gia Russa® Italian Food Products and by the 1990's Gia Russa pasta sauces were available in chain and specialty food stores throughout the United States and Canada.
In 2001 Tom incorporated Zidian Manufacturing Corporation and later changed the name of the company to Summer Food Manufacturing in 2009. A 50,000 square-foot “Green LEED Certified“ food manufacturing facility, situated on a 6-acre campus complete with an additional 11,000 square foot building housing on-site research and development center, quality assurance laboratories and a Culinary Arts Center, is now part of the landscape in the Boardman, Ohio. In 2010, an adjacent building and property was purchased to expand warehousing and distribution. With the 58,000 sq ft addition the campus grew to a 10 acres campus to accommodate the needs of the rapidly growing company. With expanded production capabilities and management's vision to create a much broader spectrum of branded, private label and food service products the company began a new era and positioned itself in a short period of time as an emerging leader in the food industry. Known for their creative product innovations, unparalleled quality and their commitment to excellent customer service, Summer Garden Food Manufacturing continues to produce their flagship brand, Gia Russa, celebrity chef brands, private label and store brands.
"I grew up in the food business and have seen dramatic changes in what consumers are demanding from those manufacturing food and those responsible for manufacturing food. Today's consumers read labels, are better educated and recognize the importance of feeding their families better food products. I am inspired by the fact that specialty food sales and natural and organic food offerings continue to grow which reinforces the long term direction and goals that we have set at our company.
The inspiration for all that we have created and do at Summer Garden Food is basically providing complete customer satisfaction at every level. We work together with our customers to create food products that the consuming public will enjoy eating and we specialize in producing branded, private label, co-packed and food service products that our customers can confidently deliver to their consumers. I believe that we have created an unparalleled experience in the food industry and have elevated the standards of what both our customers and consumers deserve."
- Thomas R. Zidian, Owner and CEO