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SBA Selects Giovanni CEO as New York State Small Business Person of the Year

Advisory Date: Monday, May 13, 2013
Release Date: Monday, May 6, 2013
Release Number: 13-19
Contact: Rachael Stanton 315-471-9393 ext. 244

Syracuse Manufacturer Will Compete for National SBA Award

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The U.S. Small Business Administration has selected Louis J. DeMent, CEO and vice president of Giovanni Food Company based in Syracuse, N.Y., as the New York State winner of the 2013 Small Business Person of the Year Award.  Nominated by the Greater Syracuse Business Development Corporation, Giovanni’s was chosen for the award based on its growth in sales and employees, staying power, response to adversity as well as charitable contributions.

Giovanni Food Company has been making pasta sauces since 1934, when the DeMent family first opened their Italian-style restaurant in Oswego, NY. The DeMents started making sauces on a larger scale in the 1950s before eventually expanding into other tomato-based product lines. Second-generation owner Jack DeMent led the transition to a larger facility in Liverpool in 2006. Within a year, Jack passed away unexpectedly and his 34-year-old son Louis stepped forward to lead the family business.

By 2009, Giovanni’s was bursting at the seams again, even producing some product batches at another Syracuse tomato product manufacturer. When that facility was for sale later in the year, Lou recognized an opportunity. Giovanni’s used SBA 504 and 7(a) loans from GSBDC and NBT Bank to purchase the manufacturing plant and its equipment, increasing capacity from one to three modern production lines.

Today, Giovanni products can be found on grocery and specialty store shelves across the U.S. The company also packs pasta sauces, pizza sauces, salsas, and barbeque sauces for many private label customers who distribute products worldwide. Under Lou DeMent’s leadership, sales have increased 49% over the past three years and the number of employees has grown to 68.

Giovanni’s CEO Lou DeMent will receive the Syracuse District and New York State awards at SBA’s annual awards luncheon on May 6 at The Doubletree Hotel in Syracuse. DeMent will compete for the national award at SBA’s National Small Business Week celebration on June 21 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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