How two black food companies whipped up lucative partnerships with a major firm

Glory Foods could work with a nonprofit and was concerned about being dominated by the food giant.

But he saw the modern facility in Minneapolis and the promise it had for jobs in the black community. There was also a letter of intent. Here was a chance to get into the frozen foods market, so Williams gave his okay. Eighteen months later, Siyeza began producing Southern Selections.

“Bill Williams is a very impressive businessman,” says Austin Sullivan, General Mills senior vice president of corporate relations. “When a business is run by a tough, bottom-line oriented businessman, your chances of having it succeed are much, much greater.”

Capitalization for the new company, Siyeza, came from a Glory Foods no-interest, no-term loan for $1.4 million and $50,000 in equity, a General Mills no-interest, no-term loan for $1.5 million, and a U.S. Bancorp purchase of $1.2 million in preferred stock. General Mills also lent the expertise of employees from a variety of departments such as marketing and manufacturing. Stairstep, which owns two-thirds of the company, contributed $100,000. Glory Foods owns the remaining third and is currently Siyeza’s sole customer. Williams is the company’s president and Babington-Johnson serves as its chairman. Ultimately, the plant will employ 150-175 people and partial, employee-ownership is also in Siyeza’s future.

Both Williams and Hoskins recognized that forming partnerships would be lucrative opportunities for them as well as General Mills. “The best advice I can give to anyone is to do your homework,” Hoskins says. “Research the company you feel you can really partner well with. Know their weaknesses.”

Hoskins says minority business owners should find out what relationships the company has with other minority-owned businesses and what it is doing to market to minority consumers. “Take that [information] as high up as you can,” Hoskins adds. “Show them where their bottom line can change.”


American Institute of Food Distribution
28-12 Broadway
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410
Issues statistical and analytical summaries on food distribution; represents canners, packers, manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers and retailers.

Association of Sales &
Marketing Companies
2100 Reston Pkwy., Suite 400
Reston, VA 20191
Represents brokers in the consumer goods

Borden Foods
Ron Cosey
Supplier Diversity Manager
180 E. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Fax: 614-225-4464
Provides information on who buys your specific products.

General Mills Inc.
Paul Schupmann
Manager of Supplier Diversity
P.O. Box 1113
Minneapolis, MN 55440
Provides brochure; certification form to enroll on the company’s database.

McCormick & Co. Inc.
Sheila Dews-Johnson
Manager of Supplier Diversity
18 Loveton Circle
Sparks, MD 21152
Manages supplier diversity activities and coordinates buying opportunities.

National Association for the
Specialty Food Trade Inc.
120 Wall St.
New York, NY 10005
Represents food manufacturers, processors, importers, retailers and brokers of specialty and gourmet foods; sponsors International Fancy Food and Confection Shows.

National Food Processors Association
1350 I St. NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
Represents commercial processors of vegetables, meats and canned goods; conducts research on
food safety, nutrition and industry concerns.

Philip Morris Companies Inc. (Kraft Foods)
Sharon Patterson
Manager of Supplier Diversity
3 Lakes Dr.
Northfield, IL 60093
Provides supplier profile form and literature.

The Pillsbury Co.
Jane Winston
Manager of Minority Supplier Development
200 S. Sixth St., Mail Stop 21X3
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Provides supplier profile form and brochure.

The Procter & Gamble Co.
Howard D. Elliott, Associate Director for Historically

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