Paul Miller

“Bellisio Foods was founded by a gentleman by the name of Jeno Paulucci in 1990. His family immigrated here from Italy and he was raised in Duluth, Minnesota. In 1932, he started a grocery store out of his home, selling his mom’s meals. She was known for her cooking skills…real Italian food!

As the years went on, Jeno developed different food products, including the pizza roll, leading us eventually to what we see here in Jackson, Ohio today. Bellisio started in 1990, which means ‘The Beautiful Food Company.’

The company went from 1 to 2 product lines to 20 lines. We went from one small warehouse building – I don’t know the exact square footage – to 17 acres, all under a roof.

I love the legacy that people leave behind and what motivates them to start and grow their businesses. Here at Bellisio Foods, ours is ‘Do the right thing, speak up, and be fast fish. Fast fish eat big fish, big fish eat small fish.’ In the food industry, it’s very competitive. Jeno Paulucci was extremely competitive and wanted to have the upper edge on some of the competition out there.

It takes a lot of work, a lot of effort, and a lot of long nights or long days. But in the end, it’s worth it.

When you walk into the frozen food section of the grocery store, you’ll see we have over 400 different varieties of entrees. We also own more popular brands such as Boston Market. We have the frozen meal sector of Atkins, and then some of our more recent developments have been in the Authentic Asia and EatingWell category. People like to eat!

You’ll also see what we take the most pride in, because it’s what our company was founded on, and that’s our ‘Michelina’s’, named after Jeno’s mother. It’s the green, $1 entree. We’re trying to get more diverse along with healthy – so a couple of vegetables, and it’s a really cool meal. They’re delicious.

It’s pretty amazing stuff. From 1932 ‘till the present day, the company went from selling individual meals out of a house to making two million meals every day!”

“I grew up in this area, about 45 minutes south of here right near the Ohio River, and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. My family was always in business, but they really encouraged job shadowing. I grew up right next to the real Bob Evans Farm. I knew a guy that worked in the Quality Department, so I was able to get in there and job shadowed at the old sausage plant for the actual Bob Evans.

The science behind the food and the safety behind the food was what really intrigued me.

I graduated and went off to Ohio State to study Food Science. Everyone there was thinking, ‘I’m this great chef!’ and I can’t cook worth a lick. But the science behind the food and the safety behind the food was what really intrigued me.

In 2015, Bellisio offered me an internship. After that internship, they offered me a full-time year before my graduation. That made it a little difficult, I was ready to get off and start working. I graduated from college in 2016. I’ve been with the company for six years now, and I’ve really seen a lot of growth out of it.”

“My main responsibilities right now are keeping the company compliant with all of the regulations that surround selling food. We have the Ohio Department of Agriculture, we have a Food and Drug Administration, we have the United States Department of Agriculture, all these different regulatory bodies so I have to make sure ‘Are companies meeting these requirements from a food safety and quality perspective?’.

I help out with company policy and food safety plans, making sure individuals are aware of certain things out on our line. Without the employees working the line, we wouldn’t have the company, so it’s important that they understand food safety. We make 2 million meals a day and doing one wrong thing could potentially affect up to 2 million people. It’s a little different than your home kitchen setting, so we gotta make sure we get them passionate about both food quality and food safety.

All of the development work to make that thing hit the shelf is something that consumers and people that aren’t close to the industry may not realize, but it’s fascinating.

It’s a really unique industry. You need to find a niche or a gap in the industry through research and development. There could be 2,000 different developments, but only one of them makes it to the marketplace. All of the development work to make that thing hit the shelf is something that consumers and people that aren’t close to the industry may not realize, but it’s fascinating. It’s pretty amazing stuff.”

“On any given day, there are typically between 1,000 to 1,200 employees here. We tell them that without the work of each and every person out here on these lines this company wouldn’t exist and that no matter what job they’re doing, their work is valued.

We’re a big company that started small but grew fast, which makes us a little more family oriented. Everyone knows everyone. There’s Mike Evans, he’s the VP of Operations here in Jackson. He’ll know everyone on a first-name basis. It’s really cool that we kept that small family feel, yet we’re a big corporation.

Manufacturing is the livelihood for a lot of people in our area. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everyone locked arms and we had several food drives. We were getting food out to people and helping them out through the economic crisis and you can really see people take pride in what they do and their work every day. We couldn’t do it without each and every one of them, that’s for sure.

If you have a happy community, you’re gonna have a happy business.

I’ve always been told growing up, ‘Your number one way to market is through word of mouth and happy people.’ If you have a happy community, you’re gonna have a happy business.

We’ve invested further into the community over the last couple of years, a multi-million dollar project. We just put in an automated freezer that has robotic palletizers, lifts, forklifts, and different things that will pick and place and do everything but basically put it on the truck for you. We’re doing that because we’re growing. When you live in a rural area, our most important resource is people, so as we’re growing and investing and putting money into our business, we’re also continuing to hire every single day that we’re creating new jobs so that no one is losing their job because of automation.

That’s the thing I love most about the company—we value everyone’s job and what they do for this company. We’re gonna put in automation, but you know what? We’re going to create this other job so that everyone’s OK. That’s a cool thing and it gives people a lot of hope.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a large city setting or in a rural area. You can do big things.”

—Paul Miller, Corporate Quality Compliance Manager, Bellisio Foods

Crown City, Gallia County