It all started with a dream and a red station wagon.
After working for Prairie Farms for 11 years, Robert Tracy (RT) wanted to give customers access to affordable products and help food industry suppliers increase their sales. It was a bit of a far-fetched dream; he and his wife, Dorothy, had very little money to start the company—and they had eight young children at home to support.
Despite the odds, the determined couple started Associated Dairy Products Company (now Dot Foods) out of the back of their family's station wagon. Little did they know that their humble business would transform the food industry.
The advantages of RT's business model became apparent to customers and suppliers alike: The customer placed one order, took one delivery, and processed one invoice—all from our company. Suppliers benefited by being able to provide better service to their existing customers and gaining new customers they couldn't previously serve.
RT and Dorothy didn't set out to create a new business model in food distribution, but that's exactly what they did. Today's food redistribution industry is a direct evolution of their dream, and our small family business has evolved alongside it to become the largest food industry redistributor in North America.
The Founding Family
With a few failed businesses in their rearview mirror, starting a new business was a huge gamble for RT and Dorothy. But Dorothy had unwavering confidence in RT, and he in her, and their partnership was perhaps the greatest key to our company's success.
It was this confidence in each other and shared values that gave them the strength to start a new venture and to hold firm and persevere through the many challenges in their future.
Sixty years after RT made his first sale, the Tracy family still passionately owns and operates Dot Foods, which is no small feat. According to the Family Business Institute, seven out of 10 family-owned companies fail before the second generation gets a chance to take the reins, and only three percent survive into the fourth generation.
RT and Dorothy passed day-to-day management to their children starting in 1985, and the second generation of Tracys proved themselves successful stewards of what their parents created. The third-generation (3G) is waiting in the wings: 12 of the 3Gs are working for Dot Foods today.
Family members say Dot has succeeded for generations because we have always considered our employees to be the company's greatest asset, treated people with trust and respect, and worked hard to maintain a warm, family-like culture as a competitive advantage.
The late Robert and Dorothy Tracy.
The 12 sons and daughters of Robert and Dorothy and their 12 spouses.
4 work full-time for the business today.
The 46 grandchildren of Robert and Dorothy and their 19 spouses.
12 work full-time for the business today.
The 31 great-grandchildren of Robert and Dorothy.
Central to the lives of the Tracy family, and therefore to the spirit of Dot Foods, is a commitment to charitable giving. It has been a cornerstone of Tracy life as long as the 2Gs and 3Gs can remember. Their interest in positively impacting the world was given a structure in 1997 with the formation of the Tracy Family Foundation (TFF).
Along with our corporate and distribution center charitable giving, at Dot, we are a proud supporter of TFF. We believe in their good work and give a portion of our pre-tax profits to the foundation.