For more than 35 years, Southwest Traders’ lasting commitment to exceptional quality products and innovative distribution solutions is truly second to none. Our quest for perfection has proudly earned Southwest Traders the 1999 Ernst & Young™ Entrepreneur of the Year award for the distribution industry.
The benefits of working with one supplier for all your business needs cannot be understated or undervalued. Doing this, in turn, provides the valuable time needed to grow your business.
To achieve our high fill-rate goals, we have redesigned our internal operation into an ultra-sustainable procedure. In addition, we’ve introduced a growing staff of sales and customer service professionals to assist in both answering questions and providing important product and service information aimed at growing your business.
The continued loyalty and satisfaction of our customer base has allowed us to equip our facility with a state-of-the-art distribution system. We maintain four different temperature zones in our warehouses and our delivery trucks so we can ensure quality products at ideal temperatures.
Southwest Traders is passionately committed to achieving our vision of delivering world-class distribution to our most important lifeline – our customers! We are here as a business partner and we would like the opportunity to become your distribution solution.
Ken Smith and Dean O. founded Southwest Traders on January 5, 1977 in Leucadia, California, as a one-van operation. Smith and Dean purchased the operation from Ken’s older brother, Ned Smith, and delivered good-for-you products. This included fresh juices, smoothies, alfalfa sprouts, fresh whole grain breads, and bakery items from Ne-Mo™.
In 1979, Smith purchased Dean’s shares and became sole owner. That’s when Southwest Traders grew from two vans to four and Smith purchased the company’s first warehouse – a 1,000 square-feet facility located on Washington Street in Escondido, California. He held the facility until the following year when, due to continued growth, they moved to a larger compound on Enterprise Street.
To try to remain competitive, Southwest Traders expanded its product line by adding dry and frozen goods in 1983. At the time, however, they were competing with large, established distribution companies in the health food market segment.
So Smith optioned to take a new direction for the company: frozen yogurt. In 1984, he began the budgeting and planning to make the transition from natural food products to frozen yogurt. The transition was complete by 1985.
This move prompted the company to change its slogan from “The Best in Natural Foods” to “Dessert Specialists.” The transition proved to be an immediate success. Within months, Southwest Traders signed its first significant chain account.
Bigger & Better Things
In 1986, Ken Smith purchased land to build a new facility in Temecula, California. It was a strategic move to make the company more centralized to their customer base in Southern California. Two years later, the company made the move to the newly finished facility.
By 1990, Southwest Traders had acquired business with several more yogurt chains, making them the leading distributor of soft serve frozen yogurt in the Southwest United States. In 1992, SWT began deliveries in Arizona and night deliveries were introduced to their emerging chain accounts by 1995.
Lasting Honor & Achievement
Ken Smith won the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award for the distribution category in 1999 as Southwest Traders had grown to a 30-truck operation and employed 140. The company positioned itself as a provider that covered a large footprint (13 states), delivering four temperatures zones via one-phone call.
The 2000s to Today
In 2000, Southwest Traders opened a warehouse in Denver, Colorado, to help gain efficiencies in their expanding footprint. In 2001, the company started construction on a 70,000 square-foot warehouse expansion, double their current space.
An additional facility was purchased in late 2002 in Phoenix, Arizona. By 2004, Southwest Traders expanded operations to Houston and Dallas, Texas. In 2006, a previous facility in Sacramento, California, relocated to Stockton.
The Temecula headquarters moved to their corporate offices in 2007, which is located a few blocks from the main warehouse. Finally, the Fresno distribution center opened in 2008.
Today, Southwest Traders remains committed to being your distribution solution. Throughout the years, our commitment to our loyal customers and our longstanding partnerships with our valued vendors has truly stood the test of time.
Don’t wait a moment more and contact our company with a rich history and relentless drive for excellence. We look forward to the next 30 years as we continue to grow and deliver great products to great people