Lt. Gov. Guadano Details Work of New Jersey SBDC Network with Stop at Family Food Distributors in Kearny

Trenton, NJ – Highlighting the important resources available through New Jersey’s small business advocacy partnerships, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno today kicked off her “Critical Resources for Small Business” tour with a visit to Family Food Distributors, a specialty food distributor. The company received important assistance services from the New Jersey Small Business Development Center that have spurred its business operations in Kearny. 

“The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network is a key partner of the New Jersey Business Action Center in helping established and existing small businesses, as well as start-ups, develop, grow and create jobs for fellow New Jerseyans,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “Their services are indispensable to our state’s economy and the success of small business and proved invaluable to Family Food Distributors.” 

Married couple Patricia Mendez and John Rivas founded Family Food Distributors from the basement of their Kearney home in 2001. The company, which imports foods from Ecuador and other South American and Central American countries, now occupies a 50,000 square-foot warehouse, employs 30 workers and generates about $14 million in revenue. The company sells to supermarkets and specialty food stores in New York, New Jersey and the Eastern part of Pennsylvania.

“I still remember the first time we reached out to the NJSBDC,” says CEO Mendez. “We worked hard and we had a dream and got it started, but we needed help getting some financing. The NJSBDC located at Rutgers-Newark helped strengthen and grow our dream by guiding us through our first business plan.”

Ms. Mendez and her daughter wrote the company’s business plan after attending the NJSBDC’s eight-week business plan writing course. The NJSBDC assisted the company with its resources and finances, and helped them obtain a loan to expand operations to a new warehouse facility.

“Even today the NJSBDC consultants are always there to give us an ear,” added Andrea Castaneda, the owners’ daughter and the company’s marketing director. “The NJSBDC is usually the first place I call to get an answer. I feel like our relationship with the NJSBDC is like a partnership – it is an ongoing relationship, not just a one-time deal.”

“We look forward to working with the Mendez family to assist them with the company’s overall maintenance and growth needs,” said Brenda Hopper, CEO of the NJSBDC network.

The New Jersey Small Business Development Center’s staff and practicing business consultants help small business owners and entrepreneurs seek capital financing, expand their customer base, brand for a competitive edge, grow company revenues, write a business plan, learn about accounting and record keeping, understand small business taxes, access small business resources, enter the global market, establish e-commerce presence, commercialize technology, register a small business, and tap contract procurement opportunities.

“We are very heartened by the fact that NJSBDC was able to help the family take a dream to fruition for Family Food Distributors to the point where they are now making $14 million in sales,” said Deborah Smarth, Chief Operating Officer and Associate State Director of NJSBDC. “It shows that when businesses receive comprehensive counseling and training, it has direct impact on their development and growth and that bolsters the economy and jobs,” said Smarth.

NJSBDC’s network of 11 centers is a partnership among the federal and state governments and educational institutions. It receives funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA), New Jersey Business Action Center (BAC), the educational institutions that host the 11 centers, and other private sponsorships and grants. Small businesses may contact the NJSBDC by calling 973-353-1927 or visiting

The New Jersey Partnership for Action supports the vital role business plays in advancing the state’s economy and creating jobs. Led by Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, the PFA is a three-pronged public-private approach to economic development and the starting point for all initiatives, policies, and efforts to grow New Jersey’s economy and create quality, sustainable jobs in our communities. The three elements of the PFA include the Business Action Center, reporting directly to the Lt. Governor and providing the business community with a single point of contact, applying a proactive, customer-service approach to businesses’ interactions with State government; the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, serving as the state’s bank; and Choose New Jersey, a privately funded marketing, business attraction and lead generation organization that markets the state as an ideal location.

Businesses considering a move or in need of assistance are encouraged to call New Jersey’s Business Action Center at (866) 534-7789 or visit the State’s Business Portal at