History of Italfoods
In 1978, Walter Guerra recognized that the San Francisco Bay Area represented a ripe market for imported Italian specialty foods. Walter had emigrated from the Marche region of Italy only 15 years earlier. He had seen that large, growing Italian-American communities were influencing the tastes of their neighbors, and that interest in traditional Italian cuisine was spreading across the nation. Italian food was already showing signs of becoming America’s number one “comfort food.” But that didn’t convince management at the food distributing company where he had been a buyer for six-plus years. The obvious solution was to meet the challenge himself.
With more determination and savvy than money, and the help of his wife Georgette and her family, Walter set up Italfoods, Inc. It was a modest beginning.Walter remembers work days that started predawn and continued until 10 or 11 at night... a 1,000 sq. ft. initial warehouse rented from Tom Evans, who was an inspiration as well as landlord... the invaluable advice of John Antognoli, known as Mr. Italy in America"... the help of long time friend and customer, Frank Granato... striving to develop the direct import pipelines that became a major strength... the able support and admirable work ethic of his employees... a truck that kept breaking down... the whole family pitching in to deliver orders.
He also remembers the enthusiasm and support of his customers and suppliers. “Italfoods’ growth has always been a team effort,” Walter says, “between all of us here at the company, along with all of our suppliers and all of our customers.Vision has also played a role in the formula for success. Just as Walter had foreseen the gigantic growth in the market for imported Italian foods, he was among the first to recognize the potential of “California cuisine” and then of Mediterranean food specialties. In each case he made sure those he worked with could profit from his insight. Currently he’s watching developing trends and exploring the possibilities of clarifying regional differences in traditional Italian dishes.
Italfoods growth is still a team effort, even with today’s 116,000 sq. ft. warehouse, several hundred suppliers, over 4,000 customers and over 70 dedicated employees who have contributed to the present success of Italfoods. There is remarkably little turnover among our employees with a vested interest in keeping customers and supply sources happy. Many of 1978’s first customers, manufacturers and initially hired employees are still with the company. The roster keeps growing as a dedicated and knowledgeable sales force demonstrates Italfoods’ informed attention to our customers’ needs and our refusal to compromise quality at any level.