Small Business Winners - 2012

  Small Business Person of the Year Winner!

  Look's Gourmet Food Company, Inc.
 1112 Cutler Road
 Whiting, Maine 04691

Michael Cote
President & CEO

Mike Cote’s entrepreneurial stripes began showing in childhood when he developed a morning paper route and shoveled snow for his neighbors in Auburn. That spirit stuck with him and shortly after graduating from high school, he bought a Pepperidge Farm bakery distributorship that had failed three times previously. Mike was able to double the sales in his first year of ownership. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Mike quickly rose to regional manager and then to regional vice president. He earned a reputation as “The Mechanic,” the guy who could fix things.

In 2003, Mike purchased the assets of the A.M. Look Canning Company, using his own savings, financing from local banks and financing from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The company had been run by Willard Look and his five sons for almost 85 years, but by the mid 1990s the grocery industry had transformed and the cannery faced closure. Mike renamed the company Look’s Gourmet Food Company and quickly turned its fortunes around. Over the past eight years, Mike has been able to get his company’s products on the shelves of more than 30 percent of U.S. grocery stores, and has landed big name accounts like Whole Foods Markets. Company sales in January 2010 alone exceeded total sales from 2003, and Look’s Gourmet Food Company now employs 28 people.


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