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Ben B. emphasize traditional values with modern approach

Ben B. Schwartz & Sons is rich in history, according to Nate Stone, special projects for the Detroit-based company. Holding onto those traditional values is what has made the company the success story it is today.

“I just love that this business is from 1906 and it still has so much momentum, strength and pride associated with it,” Stone told The Produce News. “The business keeps growing and the family keeps growing — that’s one of the things that makes working for Ben B. such a pleasure for me and the rest of the employees.”

BenBSchwartzDrew, Chris and Jake BillmeyerBen B. Schwartz & Sons came to fruition after Ben Schwartz immigrated to the United States from Lithuania in 1888. Not too long after, he met his wife Belle in Detroit and started a fruit stand in Cadillac Square, which quickly turned into a wholesale business. Ben B. Schwartz & Sons went on to become the first company to join the Detroit Produce Terminal when the terminal was established by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1929.

Eventually, Ben and Belle’s two kids, Sam and Barney, took over the family business and ran the company until the late 60s, early 70s. Meanwhile, a bit of a produce love story took place when a young Chris Billmeyer, who at that time worked for a competing company, spotted Barney’s daughter, Janice, working at the market.

Billmeyer and Janice went on to get married and take over the family business, along with their two sons, Jake and Drew, creating the successful company that is in operation today.

“We’ve got some strong, young leadership and it encourages everyone to do the best they can,” Stone said. “Everyone that works for Ben B. gets to take a role or have a part in the continuation of a story that started with a man who immigrated to the U.S. back in the late 1800s.”

That’s how a family business becomes successful, noted Stone, adding that, “It’s not by forgetting the traditional values or the past, but by incorporating them with the modern approach of technology and the world that we’re living in now.” Which is exactly what Jake and Drew Billmeyer have helped the company do.

“They are continuing to focus on what’s been instilled in them — quality and service,” Stone said. “With doing that, they follow the tradition and history of their father, grandfather, and great grandfather.”

As for the coming year, Stone said he sees Ben B. continuing to be a thriving business, and is also looking forward to spending time with old friends and making news ones at upcoming conferences and trade shows including the National Watermelon Association convention, the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure, the Viva Fresh Expo and United Fresh.