7616 S. Sixth St., Oak Creek
Industry: Food solutions
Employees: 130 to 150
Asenzya Inc., an Oak Creek-based manufacturer of custom seasonings, flavors and functional products, has undergone some significant changes in recent years.
The 62-year-old, family-owned company changed its name from Foran Spice Co. in July.
“We’re more than just a spice company, so we wanted to have a broad name that we could market to,” said president and chief executive officer Patty Goto. “People would look at Foran Spice and think ‘Oh, you’re just a spice company or a seasoning house,’ and we do a lot more than that.”
Rather than simply dropping “Spice” from the name and keeping “Foran,” Goto said the Foran name was also eliminated because no Forans have been associated with the company since co-founder James Foran left the company decades ago.
“Asenzya” was ultimately selected after the company’s leaders played around with names of foods and their translations into other languages.
“It just morphed into what it is,” said Goto, the daughter of Ralph Hauser, another of the company’s founders.
Another recent change to the company is the addition of Dax Schaefer. He joined the company in May 2014 as its corporate executive chef and first director of culinary innovation.
A former corporate chef at Palermo’s Pizza, he is responsible for staying on top of culinary trends and researching and innovating new flavor profiles, among other duties.
Innovation is a key focus for Asenzya, as it invested $4 million to $5 million on building a “world-class” culinary, research and development, and operations infrastructure. The multi-phase project, which was completed about five years ago, included the renovation of existing space and the addition of 30,000 square feet.
Asenzya’s overall building is currently 140,000 square feet. It underwent two expansions, in 1978 and 1984, and an addition for a new quality assurance lab and warehouse space was built in 2007 to 2008.
Asenzya runs on three shifts, five to six days per week, and it employs 130 to 150 people, some of whom are food scientists and technologists who work with customers to bring their flavor inspirations to life.
“At Asenzya Inc., we have so many product offerings that we play in all categories of the food industry,” said Schaefer, who describes Asenzya as a custom blender and functional ingredient company.
Goto declined to disclose the company’s annual revenue or to provide any percentages of recent growth, but she said the company is growing by becoming more proactive on its accounts and bringing its customers, whom it calls “partners,” new ideas for culinary work.
Asenzya’s partners are mainly national, and examples of industries Asenzya serves are meat, snack food, sauce, gravy and bakery.
What sets Asenzya apart from its competitors, according to Goto and Schaefer, are its approach to looking at customers as partners; the fact that it does its own in-house grinding; its emphasis on education; its talented research and development staff; and its fast turnaround.
“We fall in the sweet spot of being big enough to have the programs and controls for food safety requirements today, but we’re small enough yet that we can still respond quickly to customer needs,” Goto said.