David Stone and Morris Maib were partners in a retail grocery business in
1910. Newspaper articles give 1912
as the year when the partners established a coffee company serving
and a small surrounding territory. In
1915, C.J. “Mose” Neill purchased
the plant, even then known as Emporia Wholesale Coffee Company, a
business venture that has had interesting phases.
As described in a 1931 Emporia Gazette article, one department employed
up to 20 women in the winter months to produce one to two tons of chocolate
peanut clusters daily. These were
sold in bulk to retailers in Kansas
and surrounding states. Candy bars
and peanut brittle, plus fountain supplies, were also handled by the company.
Quality was tops as evidenced by the fact that, only a few years ago, a
visitor traveling through the city looked up EWCC in hopes of “buying some of
the best candy he could remember.”
popular branch of the company was roasting and salting
peanuts. Contracted to the
headquarters of S. H. Kress & Company, over a half-million pounds of peanuts
had been sold by 1934. Mr.
Neill bragged he never shipped salted peanuts over 12 hours old.
most important and longest lasting segment of the business has been the roasting
of coffee. In 1933, the plant was
producing 90,000 pounds of coffee monthly with equipment
available to roast twice that much. Six-O,
Neill’s Amazing, and Kuality Kup were the company brands.
The firm also packed private
label brands for forty companies and sold in bulk.
The company had a contract for
state institutions to furnish 200,000 pounds yearly.
1938, new machinery was installed enabling the firm to pack the fresh roasted
and ground coffee in glass vacuum packed containers,
replacing a tin can pack method. Mr.
Neill showed his pride in what he felt a dream come true - the peak of
perfection for Kuality Kup coffee - in an ad acknowledging a “600 percent
increase in sales proving the success of this new way of packaging Kuality
World War II coffee was rationed in the United States.
Emporians were tantalized by the smell of roasting coffee by the Emporia
firm that received a government contract to roast 60,000 pounds of green coffee
weekly to be shipped to overseas forces. In
addition to coffee, the company shipped approximately 50,000 pounds of chocolate
peanut clusters weekly for consumption by those on the fighting front.
Growth and expansion of the firm is evidenced by several moves into
larger and larger buildings in the 300-400 blocks of Commercial and Merchant
Streets in Emporia. In 1945, the
business was handling teas, coffees, spices, extracts, candies, restaurant and
fountain supplies and equipment, with a payroll of 22 employees.
The end of an era:
Mose Neill died in February, 1955, at 70 years of age.
His interest in the company was purchased by W.J. “Wally” Evans from
neighboring Chase County. Moving
from being a farmer and a dairyman to the owner of a coffee company was quite a
challenge, especially since he didn’t drink coffee!
At this time, the company had four salesmen.
1975, Charles “Skip” Evans bought the controlling interest in Emporia
Wholesale Coffee Company and has been president of the “small company
with a personal touch” ever since. As
the industry expanded, so did the company, developing product lines and sales as
time progressed. Continual growth and expansion created the company known today
as EVCO Wholesale Food Corporation. Under the leadership of the Evans family, EVCO
continues to respond to the food service needs and
requirements of today’s food service operator.
EVCO provides jobs from Larned, in the middle of Kansas,
east to the Missouri line. Thirty
diesel trucks with dual temperature
compartment beds provide delivery to
hundreds of customers. The
attractive red, white, and blue logo on the truck is a familiar sight on many
roads with the large “EVCO Wholesale” standing out wherever they go.
still grinds and packs “fresh” coffee on a daily basis, bringing the finest
coffee beans to Kansas from all over the world. As the state’s second largest
food service distributor, EVCO provides a broad line of products and services
for the Hospitality Industry. EVCO delivers the best in quality, service, and dependability, as
“Skip” Evans, President of EVCO, still
maintains our philosophy of “The Customer is King!”
Plans have been drawn for a new warehouse on a 25 acre plot in
Emporia’s Industrial Park #2. Sunday, July 16, 2006 marked a historic moment
for EVCO Wholesale Food Corp. as the doors were opened and EVCO began
shipping frozen groceries from a brand new freezer located at 3600 w. 6th avenue
in Emporia's Industrial Park #2. The 40,000 square foot facility nearly doubled
the refrigerated capacity for EVCO to continue to serve it's customers with
quality products and service. EVCO
Wholesale Food Corp. will continue the tradition of quality, service, and
dependability - the keys to the longevity of the company.