From humble beginnings, north Idaho company is now a food industry leader
Rachel Garceau, KIVI
BOISE (KIVI) – For the past 50 years, a company up in Sandpoint, Idaho – seven hours north of Boise – has been churning out a product that probably all of us have had in our fridge at one point or another: refrigerated salad dressing from Litehouse Foods.
The north Idaho company is the producer of those well-known salad dressings in the glass jars with the colored lids. In fact, company president and CEO Kelly Prior says with pride, “We’ve now reached the status of the number one refrigerated salad dressing in the country.”
Prior will also tell you, though, that Litehouse makes much more than those dressings. “We also have a line of shelf-stable salad dressings, condiments, international sauces, and even pasta sauces under the brands Organicville and Sky Valley.”
They are also the industry leader in producing dips and dressings for salad kits and bowls, and while they may be a food-industry giant now, Prior says the beginnings of the business were much more humble.
“Back in the day,” he explains, “one of our founders had a Datsun pick-up and they would produce enough product out of the restaurant and put it in the back of the Datsun pick-up, and depending on how successful his day was, would depend on how far he got. So if he made it all the way to Billings [Montana], it was a slow day, but if he was able to sell out before he got there, it was a good day.”
The original product they were slinging out of the back of that truck in the 1970s? Creamy blue cheese dressing, something that really didn’t exist before Litehouse – and some divine intervention – created it.
“Our founder’s father was a chef in Spokane,” says Prior, ”and his boss came to him and said we really need some type of creamy blue cheese dressing. And he didn’t have a recipe for it, and being a man of faith he went home and prayed about it, and he actually woke up in the middle of the night and wrote out the recipe, which now is our recipe for blue cheese dressing.”
Product development and distribution expanded big-time from the back of that pick-up truck, with 1,200 employee-owners now producing a billion units a year from factories in Idaho, Utah, Michigan and Virginia. Even with their extensive line of products, Prior says Litehouse is always working to expand and evolve, so later this year look for a line of plant-based foods from Litehouse.
And while their products may reach into every corner of the country and the continent, Prior says being based in the Gem State remains the cornerstone of the company’s success. “Being made in Idaho is important for us, it’s really where it all began.”
To learn more about Litehouse Foods, check out their website here.