Madison Produce Company Thrives in Today’s Economy
A family-run wholesale food business has a healthy appetite for growth and employee retention
R.E. Golden Produce is truly a family affair. Founder Bob Golden started his own wholesale produce company in 1978 after working for various companies in the cooperative food industry. Today all Golden family members are owners in the operation, with each serving on the board of directors. Like most start-ups, the business had a modest beginning, selling Nancy’s Yogurt along with fruits and vegetables. Now the Goldens’ main customers include restaurants and independent caterers throughout Dane County and Milwaukee.
“We built our business the old-fashioned way—through word of mouth,” says Bob’s wife Barbara Golden. “Once people learned about us, our reputation for being fair and honest grew, to the point where a great deal of our business comes from repeat customers and referrals.”
Over time, the Goldens have increased their inventory to include dairy and spices. The strategy has proven to be a wise decision, as well as an important one, even in the current state of the economy.
“Even though times are difficult financially, people are still eating out. And the demand for our services has increased as a result,” Barbara says.
That demand includes working with corporations with kitchens and cafeterias, and developing partnerships with local producers, especially
during the growing season.
After years of continued growth, the Goldens doubled their footprint, improving workspace for staff, to whom Barbara credits much of the company’s success. Expansion often can mean changing the way you do business. Not R.E. Golden Produce. Says Barbara, “Our business model has made us who we are today. Our relationships with our customers, quality, follow through and having a live person answer the phone when our customers need us are the most important parts of our business. We are proud to serve and to be a part of this great community.”
• Business address: 1337 Gilson St.
• The company also sells spices and shares recipes at littlevillagespices.com
• 15 employees enjoy health benefits, 401(k) plans, sick leave, vacation time and even extra pay on birthdays
• Involved in and contributors to many social justice causes
Picking a Winner
Since a recall election of Gov. Scott Walker is all but assured, now comes the hard part: finding the challenger with the least amount of negatives. If unsuccessful, Democrats could find themselves right back where they started, and all the effort of gathering signatures for the recall will have been for nothing. Either way, can we please focus on jobs?
After the Madison Metropolitan School Disctrict’s Board of Education voted down the Madison Prep proposal 5–2, the Urban League of Greater Madison announced it would open an independent charter school this fall. As for MMSD officials, they have promised a detailed plan to address the achievement gap and embarrassingly low graduation rates for students of color. Let’s hope so, for our kids’ sake.
The state of Wisconsin has announced that in compliance with the 2005 Real ID law, all new and renewal driver’s licenses and IDs will
feature advanced technology to prevent fraud and will be issued by mail. Which kinda makes one wonder what the voter ID fuss was really about.
Derrell Connor hosts “Outreach” on NewsTalk 1310 WIBA, pens a column for Channel 3000 and freelances for Madison Magazine.