“We still supply the fragrance that goes in there,” he says. “When a company stays loyal to you like that, you want to look at its name every day.”
Flavor and fragrance used to be a family business. Look into the history of any of today’s massive and still growing industry giants and you will see at their root what were once family-run, privately held operations. But while consolidation has swallowed many once-familiar names, family hasn’t entirely vanished from the landscape. These small- to mid-sized companies boast a certain level of provenance and personal attention that allows them to compete from a unique angle. But exactly how do they fit into today’s increasingly competitive and tight business climate?
To Heinz, the concept is simple, “Just because a company gets larger and larger and has multibillion-dollar sales doesn’t mean that it can provide customers what they need and want.”
The Heinz family has helmed Northbrook, Illinois-based Bell since 1967 when it acquired the company from founder William Bell who had begun his own career in Kraft’s confectionary department.
Starting with just four employees and from a base of dairy and confectionary flavor systems, the company gradually expanded into fruit flavors for beverages and beyond. Today, the company employs 1,000 and supplies flavors, aroma chemicals, fragrances and botanical extracts to everyone from beverage clients to pharmaceutical firms, expertise fueled by both organic and external growth.
Over time, Bell acquired 16 F&F houses across the globe, most notably the purchase, in 1993, of Leipzig giant Schimmel & Co. Founded in 1829, the German firm is widely considered the founder of modern F&F and was once the largest supplier to Eastern Europe. This acquisition marked the foundation of the company’s European arm. Today, Bell’s global network of 13 locations stretches from China to Mexico to Russia and beyond.