History

FOUNDED IN 1994

Jim Pekar establishes First Choice Ingredients.

The dream began in April 1994, when a young Jim Pekar decided he wanted to bet on himself. With five years of experience in the ingredient industry, Jim wanted to put his talents to work and create a flavor company like no other. As a former Iowa Hawkeye defensive tackle, Jim was always known for his tenacity and ability to lead, so he immediately put his strengths to work and began to assemble a specialized team. From the basement of his South Milwaukee, Wisconsin home, the group's hard work and focus on product integrity paid off as First Choice Ingredients quickly built a name for itself.

1994
1995

1995

Whatever-it-takes attitude is born.

Everyone knows FCI for our legendary customer service and whatever-it-takes attitude. The legend was born back in 1995 when a potential client called at the end of the day in dire need of product. The prospect said, "If you can deliver this by tomorrow, we will be a client for life." Since the last UPS truck had departed hours earlier, President Jim Pekar loaded his Chevy Silverado and was off to Minneapolis, MN, arriving at 5:00 am the next morning. Saying you'll do whatever-it-takes is easy. At First Choice Ingredients, it's not simply a slogan — it's exactly how we roll.

1996

1996

FCI moves into Howell Avenue business park in Milwaukee

1997

1997

R&D leader and eventual partner Roger Mullins joins FCI

1998

1998

FCI moves into Bender Road manufacturing facility in Glendale

2002

FCI outgrows Glendale location, moves into new Germantown facility.

  • Over 20 reaction vessels of up to 10,000 kg/batch (21 process vessels with batch capability of 250 – 12,000kg each)
  • Dry blending operations of 10,000kg per shift
  • Product form: Liquids, Paste, Powders, Emulsions
  • Steam strip distillation
  • Facility certifications: SQF Level 2, Kosher, Halal & Organic certified
2002
2005

2005

FCI expands production space and warehousing

2010

2010

Second manufacturing building is constructed on site

2013

2013

Five labs and tasting room are added

2014

2014

New processing room

FCI commissions new processing room and six new processing vessels for total of 21.

2015

2015

Pam Gribou joins FCI

Pam is known as one of the foremost experts in the dairy industry.

2016

2016

First Choice Ingredients adds Menomonee Falls facility.

"We have experienced double-digit growth every year for the last decade," said Jim Pekar, First Choice president. "This new, world-class facility will enable us to grow responsibly to meet the needs of our customers and take advantage of new opportunities. We have customers all over the world, and they all know the best dairy products come from Wisconsin."

The purchase of the plant included much of the production equipment and machinery already in place. First Choice also plans to add five new laboratories in the facility to help pilot new products as it expands its custom flavors division.

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