Sidekim: Makes Fast Moves In The Food Market

July 2011

In November of 2007, CEO and founder Peter Mikedis broke ground on the headquarters of Lynn-based Sidekim Foods, which provides healthier meals for childcare, school, and senior nutrition programs. By February 2008, the company was up and running, with two full-time and two part-time employees. In less than four years, Sidekim is up to 35 full-timers and seven part-timers serving some 5,500 meals a day. The company has grown horizontally within is client base as well.

While it has a roster of 19 clients, it serves multiple groups within each one. "For example," notes Sidekim, "we have a senior agency client, where we make 11 separate deliveries to different sites within the agency." Today, approximately 40 percent of the company's business comes from private and charter schools, 40 percent from state programs serving senior citizens, 15 percent from child care facilities, and 5 percent from corporate catering.

Mikedis started out as a classically trained chef and spent the bulk of his career in corporate dining. But about 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and decided to take time off to be with his wife and children. After his treatment, he took a job in the field of senior nutrition.

"I did the work for about five years and realized I was enjoying making a difference in peoples' lives," he says. "So I decided, along with my wife and business partner, Stella, to do it for myself."

Mikedis' vision for Sidekim centered around what he calls the "Real Food" philosophy.  "It's about serving quality, healthier meals to kids and senior populations," he explains. "They're entitled to that every single day. From my office to the kitchen to the delivery team, everyone has a passion for natural, real foods." That philosophy is spearheading Sidekim's growth, all of which has been organic, via referral.

And Sidekim's reputation for quality recently brought it to the attention of the Boston Public School system, which gave the provider an opportunity to bid on its summer meal program. "We've proven we can provide that high quality at a competitive price," Mikedis notes. In fact, they won the contract, which calls for 7,000 breakfasts and 11,000 lunches per day. "Being in business for only three years, we really wanted to tap into the public school system," he adds. "Having Boston Public Schools in our portfolio will open doors for us. It's the largest district in the Commonwealth and it validates what we do. It means we can serve anyone."

Among the factors that led to the speedy growth of Sidekim Foods, Mikedis says, is the company's relationship with Salem Five. In addition to direct deposit and checking accounts, Sidekim uses a Salem Five line of credit and an equipment term loan. "I view the bank as a long-term partner. I started our accounts there," he states. "Paul Passeri [Salem Five senior vice president] really took the time to learn what we do. He understands our business and knows our client base. He rewrote our loan and tied everything together into a single SBA loan, which improved our cash flow and, with the line of credit he helped us secure, we've been able to sustain growth. With Salem Five's help, we've grown 600 percent since our inception."

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