MiMi Food Products: Turning a Passion for Pizza into a Thriving Enterprise

MiMi Food Products (MiMi) focuses and specializes in dough, but not just dough for pizza, dough for a variety of specialty products.  The versatile, elastic balls of flour are what the Primucci family knows best, so it was only natural that Mike Primucci would leave the family’s Pizza Nova franchise to pursue the supply side of the food industry. “I’ve been in the pizza business my whole life,” says Primucci, founder and president of MiMi. “This company really came about when we did some food trade shows for some of the equipment we were importing from Italy. In order to demonstrate the equipment, I came up with a dough recipe to show the restaurateurs and food service industry how to make the best quality pizza using the equipment. What ended up happening was that everyone liked the system, but they were asking about where they could get some of the dough. So when I came back, I decided to look into this venture and really get a sense of how much demand was out there for this product. We had discussions with a number of people who loved the idea, so MiMi Food Products was created.” 
The family’s original manufacturing facility was being used to produce MiMi products.  “We got to a point where we couldn’t keep producing dough for the 130 franchises as well as the dough for MiMi’s.  So, we had to make a decision,” explains Primucci.  “We either had to expand the current facility, cap our sales, or we had to move house entirely.  Well, no one likes to cap sales and when we looked into an expansion, it just didn’t make financial sense for us.” Due to its increasing popularity, the company moved to a larger facility in 2004 in order to keep up with demand.  When we moved in, we were only producing these frozen balls of dough. But as you have to do in the food industry, we kept expanding the products and developing new ones in order to make a whole line of different products to meet customer and consumer demands.”
MiMi currently operates out of Vaughan, Ontario. From there, the company produces a whole line of pizza dough-based delicacies, running the gamut from specialties like ciabatta wraps and focaccia to newer products like pizza and garlic buns, flatbreads, garlic and pizza rolls and a school board regulated whole grain dough. More than anything, the diversification was motivated by a desire to meet the needs of the customers for the company’s high quality products.  “As soon as we moved to the new facility, our product line exploded,” says Primucci. “We knew that we couldn’t really survive as a business on our dough balls alone, so we started to develop products for the food service industry that created new markets.”
Primucci credits the company’s success to its ability to work directly and cooperatively with its customers, as well as its incredible motivation to develop products in an effective manner. The company prides itself on not only listening, but fully understanding its client’s needs. “There are some big competitors in this market,” says Primucci. “But our business model is different.  It is all about meeting the needs of our customers who come to us seeking a point of difference through customization of a product line to service their consumer needs. Which customers find more beneficial using a third party like MiMi Food Products. Our customers come to us because we give them the customization that those large companies can’t afford to take on.”
One Customer at a Time
The company’s research and development allows it to best identify the needs and solutions for a client of any size. “We take pride in working with the customer from research and development all the way down to the end,” says Primucci. “It’s not just about developing the perfect product either. It’s about developing the perfect product for a customer who may only be able to take on some of the production. If they want us to train their employees to make hand-tossed pizzas from proprietary dough, we will train them. If their production is better suited to a par-baked pizza crust that they want to top, we can do that too. The most exciting part of the business, for me, is being able to find the perfect product for every client and their operation.  It is all about the customer and that is what MiMi Food Products is all about.”
MiMi’s attentive approach to its customers has attracted interest from large corporations as well as the media. “We were part of the Food Network’s Glutton for Punishment series, where the firm worked to develop a dough specific for Bob Blumer to set a world record for making pizza with. “We worked with him for a whole week training him to toss pizzas,” recalls Primucci. “It was great because we spent a whole week just developing the right kind of dough. We knew he would need to make more than 142 pizzas, which was the old record. So, we knew we would need dough that could be easily tossed, that held its shape well and could be proofed easily. We spent a whole week developing, formulating, baking, tasting and throwing out a whole lot of pizza dough.”
In the end, Blumer threw an impressive 172 pies, of which 168 counted toward the final tally. Blumer successfully set the record and ultimately reinforced the firm’s reputation for friendly, helpful and effective customer training services. “We do pizzas and doughs for large restaurant chains and for many supermarket chains in the area,” says Primucci. “We have a professional pizza chef on staff with over 25 years of experience. His job is to train these chefs every day.  We train the line cooks and the chefs on how to make pizzas and related products.  It’s a totally different business approach than the suppliers who just come in, do a demonstration and call it quits once the product arrives at the client’s door.  We’ll go back as many times as needed to make sure the client is set up properly, with continued on-going support.”
Following Demand
The process of developing both a proprietary dough and preparation system for clients on such a large scale is no small undertaking. However, the MiMi team prides itself on producing something with incredible consistency in a niche market. “It’s really in the service aspect of the business that we excel and are able to develop loyalty and trust with our customers,” admits Primucci. “It’s more difficult to offer these services because you have to be knowledgeable about every aspect of your product and how you can alter them to make it into what your customer is looking for. Even though it’s more difficult and more work, it makes it more fun. I want to be able to develop something special for the customers.” 
The company plans on pursuing the development of additional products in hopes of creating new markets as others dry up. “When one door closes, another one opens up and we’re always keeping our ears to the ground to develop products that the customer will want to use,” says Primucci. “For example, 10 or 15 years ago, focaccia was a huge product and then it fell out of popularity. But we’re starting to see the demand for it come back. In general, it’s a cyclical thing. Products come and go. So, we have to be developing new products all the time to have their own heyday. It’s why we developed our pizza buns, garlic rolls and now our new school board regulated whole grain dough. It is how we managed to kind of jump over the economic hurdles of the past few years.”
The company’s commitment to the three components of quality, freshness and taste are second to none. Those core components are the foundation of the company and its products. MiMi produces for the quality, conscious consumer and is determined to both promote and sell top quality products. Consumers are becoming more and more knowledgeable and concerned in regards to retail food products. Price is no longer the only factor consumers are faced with in making essential decisions. By standing behind its products 100 percent, the company is proud to produce not only the finest artisan style products with the freshest ingredients and complimented superior flavor, but also delivering these products to customers in an efficient and effective manner tailored to meet individual needs. This specialty treatment puts MiMi Food Products two notches ahead of its competitors.