OPINION: Wallingford’s Thurston Foods bought by larger company

Whenever a big company buys a smaller company there’s typically reason to worry about the smaller company, particularly if it has a history of involvement and support at the local level. The big company doesn’t have the same connection, the same loyalties, the same interests — those are at least some of the concerns.

But it doesn’t always have to be that way, and in the current situation of Thurston Foods Inc., there’s reason to believe an acquisition by a larger company will add up to a benefit.

That’s at least the early indication. Thurston Foods, for a long time a Wallingford family business, was recently bought by GS Foods Group, a California food distributor. As the Record-Journal recently noted, Thurston is celebrating its 74th year, with 200 workers and hopes that more will be hired. As the company’s chief executive, Peter Malone, observed, “they are expanding their footprint nationwide and we’re happy to be their footprint in Connecticut.” The deal will not involve changes in operation or personnel, and the company will keep its name and logo.

Thurston supplies food and paper products to hospitals, schools, restaurants and health care facilities, among others, and is one of the major distributors in the Northeast. It’s easy to see why it would be attractive to GS Foods, which has also made several other acquisitions recently.

Having said all that, it will be worth watching for changes. Thurston started in 1947 as an ice delivery and frozen locker storage company. It has a well-earned reputation for supporting the community. “I hope the new company acquiring them will have the same level of commitment,” said Tim Ryan, Wallingford’s business recruitment specialist.

At the outset there’s no reason to see why any of this would change. Malone told the R-J Thurston had rejected other offers that would have involved organizational changes.

We can look at it as the start of a new chapter, and hope it serves well what has for a long time now been a good story.

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