1980s: Freeze Flo, On Top, Aggressive Acquisition

During the decade, Rich’s solidifies its industry leadership with two significant product innovations. In 1980, Rich’s introduces Freeze Flo®, an all-natural process that allows food to remain soft while frozen or to be served straight from the freezer. And in 1986, Rich’s introduces On Top® non-dairy dessert topping, which is the first topping to be packaged in a pastry bag containing its own tip.

The product offers operators unprecedented levels of convenience, decorating creativity and value. Rich’s continues its aggressive expansion throughout the 1980s, with purchases of frozen-food manufacturing facilities in California, Georgia, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Rich’s also continues to diversify its product offering with the purchase of frozen Italian pasta and meat specialty producer Casa di Bertacchi Corporation, of Vineland, N.J., in 1982 and the acquisition of barbecue and specialty meat producer Byron’s Inc., of Gallatin, Tenn., in 1988.
Along with significant increases in its frozen-food production capabilities, the 1980s also see Rich’s diversify its portfolio with the purchase of three Minor League Baseball franchises, including the Double-A Buffalo Bisons in 1983.

After joining the Rich’s family, the Bisons, who return to the Triple-A ranks in 1985, put up record-breaking attendance numbers and continue to be a model minor league franchise. Rich’s initial involvement with Minor League Baseball is spearheaded by Bob Rich Jr. and the company’s first General Counsel, William G. (Bill) Gisel, who joins Rich’s in 1982.

In 1988, Bob Rich Jr. charges Gisel with the task of extending Rich’s business into foreign markets and names him Vice President of the newly formed International Division. For the next eight years, Gisel leads the company’s expansion into Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.

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