Business is booming for Northern California’s own CJ Produx. Founded by husband and wife duo Jeff and Clara Pappas nearly twenty years ago, the Turlock-based company has been turning heads and turning profits, partnering small businesses with outstanding products with major retailers and distributors, for years. What makes CJ Produx such a unique player in the California deli industry and beyond? We sat down with Founder and CEO Jeff Pappas to find out.
“When I walked into a grocery store, I thought: man, my dream, one day, would be to be in the meat department, to be in the center aisles, to be in produce, to be on the front counter—and now, here it is,” Jeff remarks. “An outstanding product like Sarah’s Harvest hummus, from a small farming community is Sanger, California, for example, is available in Safeway and Save Mart because of the work we do. It’s remarkable to think: that happened because of me.”
CJ Produx, Jeff explains, provides business solutions to select companies looking to bring their products to market, partner with merchants, build brand recognition, and improve companies’ bottom lines.
From deli items like hummus and spreads, milks, condiments, dressings and sauces, to spices, almonds, and prepackaged snack options—even household and commercial cleaning products and kitchenware; the company markets well over a dozen carefully selected product lines across organic, all-natural, and conventional categories. CJ Produx works with major distributors and premier nationwide retailers such as Albertsons, Kroger, and Publix. The company's distributors include:
In the early-nineties, after experiencing a personal tragedy, Jeff began his career in marketing—working with his cousins at Pappy’s Fine Foods, and eventually helping to develop products like the Legends wine bottle and the iconic Wheaties cereal box for Post Cereal. Also around this time, Jeff, whose prospects for an NFL career early in his life were cut short by injury, began to work with the NFL Alumni Pro Legends as a Promoter and Retail Marketer.
“I had a bunch of major players—Roger Craig, Joe Montana—that backed me, that said: you need to get a hold of this guy. He helps people along the way, cares about people,” notes Jeff. “I didn’t burn anybody along the way. I was very transparent.”
With over fifty years of combined experience marketing and distributing fine food products, Jeff and Clara have built their company's brand on solid foundations of trust and integrity, nurturing long term relationships with the company he keeps. Jeff notes that he still has ties to the NFL and its franchises and has partnered with the organization on various campaigns.
The company’s most recent partnership with the California Center in Shanghai, China is a testament to Jeff’s reputation and ability to establish mutually lucrative partnerships. Jeff serves as a representative intermediating between Chinese buyers and wholesalers and Californian exporters, helping to provide smooth logistical operations and combat potential problems like food fraud by partnering well-established Chinese business professionals and quality food providers from California.
For more on movers and shakers in the deli industry, check in with Deli Market News.