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Middleby

Middleby (Nasdaq: MIDD) sells ovens and other food preparation and packaging equipment. It was founded in 1888 under the Middleby Marshall Oven Company name and changed its name to The Middleby Corporation in 1985. It is headquartered in Elgin, Ill.

Company Description

This small-cap company sells ovens and cookers of all types. Conveyor belt ovens, convection ovens, fryers, baking ovens, broilers, and steam cooking equipment. It also offers food preparation equipment, such as breaders, batterers, and mixers, along with packaging and food safety equipment. It sells these to restaurants of all sizes, hotels, and convenience stores.

It had been selling other items such as freezers and deli cases, but a new management team narrowed the company's focus beginning about 2000. By giving up a lot of revenue, many investors fled, but the turnaround has helped the company perform well in recent years. The higher margin ovens let the company focus on one major line, selling to such names as McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway, Papa John's and Domino's. The strategy worked, as net margin improved from low single digits in the late 1990s to about 10% today.

The company acquired its century-old primary competitor, The Blodgett Oven Company, in 2001 as part of this refocusing and then went on an intense campaign to raise sales and reduce debt. It has since acquired other competitors, both to reduce competition and to expand its own product line in its area, recently acquiring TurboChef.

Executives

  • CEO, Chairman, President -- Salim Bassoul, since 2001 as CEO, and formerly the COO
  • CFO -- Timothy Fitzgerald, since 2003

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