Safie’s Specialty Foods Carries on a Family Legacy

By Janice Benson | September 22, 2017
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Photo courtesy Safie Specialty Foods

Mary Safie stepped into the footsteps of her family when she launched Safie Specialty Foods Company in 1994. Her grandfather’s determination, along with the entrepreneurial spirit of her father and uncles, was the inspiration behind her passion for creating all-natural, home-style canned foods.

In 1929, at the outset of the Great Depression, Dimitri Safie was growing fruit and vegetables on his 800-acre family farm in Chesterfield. He began preserving the vegetables as a way to provide income for his family’s livelihood. His three sons—George, Louis and Charles—worked alongside him and began building a successful business, Safie Brothers Pickle Company.

They moved production from the kitchen into a large packing facility that extended over seven acres of farmland and Safie Brothers soon became the largest pepper manufacturer in the country. After years of great success, the family sold the business in the late 1980s.

In 1994, Mary returned to her family’s roots and began pickling vegetables in the very same kitchen as her grandfather. She created, tested and tasted recipes until she settled on her flagship product: Homestyle Sweet Pickled Beets, featuring locally grown beets and whole spices, and she packed every jar by hand.

Mary took her pickled beets to local grocers and markets, offering tastings, and she grew her business one customer at a time. She created new recipes over the years, always seeking out the best Michigan-grown ingredients and following the time-honored traditions of her family.

“My passion for food and love of cooking dictates a level of quality that will never be comprised in the ingredients we use or the service provided to our customers,” she says.

She now offers 16 products, including Old Fashioned Bread & Butter Pickles, Sexy Hot Pickled Asparagus and Dill Pickle Beans. Several years ago, she began an organic line. Mary’s signature Homestyle Sweet Pickled Beets received the 2014 SIAL Canada Innovation Award for the ingredients and the production process. Her Crispy Dill Pickled Carrots received the 2017 Innovation Award for the ingredients and distinguished packaging.

Safie’s has proudly remained a family business, with over 50 employees. Mary’s sister, Theresa and her cousins Victoria, Theresa Marie, Janet and Danielle now work alongside her as the company’s management team.

“We are a close-knit company,” says Danielle. “Whether we’re related or not, we tell all of our employees, ‘You are family.’”

“It is a privilege to be a part of this,” says Victoria. “By creating this resurgence of the family business, Mary has allowed us to be a part of it, too. She had the courage and determination to get her products out there and truly made the company her own.”

Mary says her family has been the key to success. “When I started, I was fortunate, because my family came together. We all came home and we all work together and it’s that love of being together and working together that has made us successful. We’ve added to our family history, in a good way, and continued on the same road that they began.”

Learn more at SafieSpecialtyFoods

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