John G. Richardson

In 2019, SugarCreek was the winner of the John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award. This innovative packaged food company had seen tremendous growth under John G. Richardson, chairman of the board. Initially a manufacturer of raw bacon, the company now runs six facilities that deliver raw and fully cooked products for domestic and international customers in nearly every sector.                                    

We talked with Mr. Richardson to find out how he dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: How did the pandemic change your business?

We were reminded that people have to eat. We were fortunate to get through. Early on, when the pandemic was breaking, half of our business was food service. Half of our plants shut down. When you walk through these empty facilities, you have a much greater appreciation for the fact that it takes people to do all this. Their effort and safety to make all this happen was a wake-up call for us.

Q. How did you adapt to the changes?

We retooled our business and changed our equipment around. Half of our business was food service, and we pivoted to retail. As the year progressed, food service started to come back again. Now both sides of the business have exploded with growth. We’ve been running hard ever since.

Q. What are you most proud of during the last

18 months?

Our employees put in an incredible effort. They were working six and seven days a week, nonstop around the clock. We have a much greater appreciation for our central workers and labor force.

I’m also proud of our ability to pivot and then ramp back up to handle the amount of business.

Q. What words of wisdom would you give other

business owners?

Never give up. We were losing business and, frankly, money. I lost a lot of sleep. That moment can be scary. But we learned how remarkable and resilient everyone involved is: the customers, the employees, the suppliers. Never lose faith. Just keep working hard, and you’ll get through it.