Issue Fall 14
Tone Products stays behind the limelight of its private-label brands. Instead, it is the mastermind behind the production process that achieves the perfect tartness in a cocktail mix or sweetness in a barbecue sauce that can be enjoyed at restaurants or purchased in stores.
Brothers Bill and Bob Evon founded the Melrose Park, Ill.-based company in 1947 as a beverage company and sold Tone Products’ first concentrated syrup to steel mill workers in Indiana. “The upstart beverage company was the first to pioneer syrup concentrates that were initially sold under the brand name ‘BONNIE,’” Bill Evon’s son Tom Evon and executive vice president says.
Today, Tone Products is a contract manufacturer and leader in the design and development of private-label, specialty branded sauces, marinades and unique beverage products. The company operates a 90,000-square-foot production facility that consists of two separate processing rooms. “One side of our business is for manufacturing savory items, such as barbecue sauce, marinades and Bloody Mary mixes while the other side focuses on beverage concentrate, cocktail mixes and syrups,” Operations Director Greg Sperry explains.
Clients range from restaurant chains, USDA meat packing facilities and foodservice distributors to entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own brand.
Aside from a couple small house brands, Tone Products’ main focus is on contract manufacturing. “We have been doing this for a long time,” Director of Product Development Kevin Odom explains. “We have been in business for more than 65 years and over that time we have developed an extensive library of formulas and flavors that make developing new products a much smoother process.”
The differences in products usually come from customers’ specifications. One of Tone Products’ core beliefs is to maintain excellent relationships with all of its suppliers and vendors around the globe. “The thousands of customers we have are all unique,” Director of Purchasing Matt Claus notes. “We have the resources here to source premium ingredients from all parts of the country and from around the world.”
Tone Products creates sauces, marinades or beverage mixes and sends it to the company for approval. In many cases, trial and error is used to perfect a customer’s production formula. The customer provides Tone Products with feedback on the sweetness, color and taste. ‘The business is always changing with the trends,” Vice President of Sales and Marketing Will Evon says. “A nice thing about being a contract manufacturer is that we can change and adapt very quickly to the market and our customers’ needs.”
Tone Products considers its employees its largest asset and goes to great lengths to ensure each one is adequately trained and shown appreciation. “We also choose to go a little further and focus on not only job training, but also on employee care,” Director of Human Resources Mike Evon says. “More than 70 percent of our employees have been with us for more than 10 years and many of them are way past 20 years.”
Regional Sales Manager Jerry Christopolus has been with the company for 45 years and Operations Director Greg Sperry is close behind with 35 years at Tone Products. Its production team includes Terrance Patton, Carlos Delgado, Raymundo Garcia and Juan Salgado who bring a combined 100 years of experience to the facilities. “We are incredibly blessed to have that level of loyalty and expertise through our company,” Will Evon notes.
Tone Products will continue to be family owned and operated as the third generation prepares to one day become its leaders.
“The third-generation has been involved for the last 10 years,” CEO Tim Evon notes. “Statistically, third generation family businesses have increased rates of failure. We are being intentional with our approach to ensure that does not happen.”
Tone Products is also preparing for growth by constantly making upgrades to its facility. Over the past four years, the company replaced every filler and capper on its seven production lines, added more than 60,000 square feet of warehousing space and remodeled both mixing rooms. “We are always looking to the future and trying to do our best to stay just ahead of our growth,” Will Evon says. “The philosophy here has always been slow, controlled growth and it has served us very well.”