Schwan Food Company
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|Headquarters||Marshall, Minnesota, USA|
|Key people||Dimitrios Smyrnios, CEO|
The Schwan Food Company is a multibillion-dollar, privately owned company with 15,000 employees in the United States. Based in Marshall, Minnesota, the company sells frozen foods from home delivery trucks, in grocery store freezers, by mail, and to the food service industry. The company produces, markets, and distributes products developed under brands such as Schwan's, Red Baron, Freschetta, Tony's, Mrs. Smith's, Edwards, Pagoda Express, and many others.
The company's major business units include Schwan's Home Service, Schwan's Consumer Brands, Schwan's Food Service, and Schwan's Global Supply Chain.
Schwan's Home Service, the company's flagship business unit, is the largest direct-to-home food delivery provider in the United States. Home Service markets and distributes more than 400 products under the Schwan's and LiveSmart brands. The business has more than 400 sales-and-distribution centers located throughout the United States with 4,500 delivery vehicles.
Schwan's Consumer Brands markets frozen food products in grocery stores primarily in the Western Hemisphere. Schwan's Food Service markets and distributes frozen-food products to the food service industry. Schwan's Global Supply Chain is a manufacturing cooperative that coordinates the company's production processes and helps develop new products.
In 1952, Marvin Schwan began home delivery of his family's homemade ice cream to rural western Minnesota. Schwan's expanded quickly to cover much of the Midwestern United States and made a number of acquisitions, including the Holiday Ice Cream Company and Russell Dairy. In 1957, the product line was expanded to include juice concentrates, and in 1962, Schwan's began selling frozen fish products.
During the 1970s, the company began selling pizza to schools, launched the Red Baron pizza brand for sale in grocery stores, and formed the Red Baron Squadron flight team to promote the brand. During the 1980s, Schwan's made further acquisitions, including pizza manufacturer Sabatasso Foods and Asian-foods manufacturer Minh Food Corporation. Schwan's opened a plant in Leyland, Preston, England in 1989. In 1993, founder Marvin Schwan died of a heart attack at the age of 64. The Marvin Schwan Memorial Drive in Marshall is named after him. His older brother, Alfred Schwan, who had been the company's head of manufacturing, was named president.
In October 1994, the Minnesota Department of Health informed the Schwan's Food Company that 67 people in southern Minnesota had been infected with salmonella enteritis and that there was a strong statistical link between the illnesses and Schwan's ice cream. Schwan quickly halted the production and sale of the company's ice cream and began a public-awareness campaign asking people not to eat Schwan's ice cream products. An investigation found that the source of the contamination was a contractor's truck that had delivered ice cream pre-mix to Schwan. The trucking company had inadequately washed the tanker truck after transporting raw, unpasteurized eggs. Schwan's actions in response to the recall were unconventional at the time and have since been imitated by companies facing recalls.
In 1996, Schwan's introduced the Freschetta pizza line and acquired La Roue du Pay d'auge, a frozen foods producer in France. In 1998, Schwan's opened a pizza plant in Osterweddingen, Germany. In 2001, Schwan acquired the Edwards dessert company from Ripplewood Holdings, and in 2003, the Mrs. Smith's dessert company from Flowers Foods. Also in 2003, the corporation changed its name from Schwan's Sales Enterprises to The Schwan Food Company.
Recently, the Schwan Food Company began to focus on convenience of meals at affordable prices under their new "Prepared To Serve" tagline.
In 2010, Schwan teamed up with the TV series Top Chef and served dishes that were made famous by chefs that were featured on the Bravo television series.
In December 2011, Schwan ceased operations in Louisiana. This effectively ended the Louisiana Project which was launched in 2003-2004.
Red Baron Squadron
The Red Baron Squadron was established in 1979 as a promotion for Red Baron Pizza. The squadron flew five vintage Stearman biplanes modified with 450 hp engines. A separate 38 foot support vehicle followed with spare parts and engines. At the time, they were the oldest civilian air team in the United States. They attended airshows throughout the country and flew formation aerobatics. Their base of operations and air museum was at the Southwest Minnesota Regional Airport in Marshall, Minnesota. In 2007, after 28 years of flying, the company announced the retirement of the squadron.
Employment Discrimination Controversy
Schwan Food Company has had multiple lawsuits filed against it (in varying states and jurisdictions) alleging employment discrimination. Allegations include racial discrimination, Americans with Disability (civil rights violations) discrimination, among others. In December, 2013, Sandeep Gupta, a former manager that worked at Schwan's Home Service offices in Austin, TX and Houston, TX filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by Schwan employees. This discrimination included verbal and physical abuse and alleges Schwan's Home Service did not take adequate steps to prevent or stop such abuse from occuring. In his claim, Gupta states that he was held down and punched in the groin by fellow co-workers on multiple occasions, locked in a freezer, and frequently referred to as a "terrorist" by co-workers (despite Gupta being a Hindu), including a district manager. Based upon these conditions and the discriminatory work environment created by his co-workers and the district manager, he did not feel he would be able to get support from Schwan Home Services on these abuses.
- Schwan's Salmonella Recall. National Institutes of Health. May 1996.
- Peter Price (March 1993). "Red Baron Stearman Squadron". Air PRogress.