Sargento’s song

New book details company's growth and lesson learned

Sean P. Johnson
Posted by of Insight Publications

Sargento Foods Inc. released a biography detailing the story of how its founder, Leonard Gentine, built the company from a provider of specialty cheese to local Italian communities into a billion-dollar cheese company and household name.

“Treated Like Family: How an Entrepreneur and His ‘Employee Family’ Built Sargento, a Billion-Dollar Cheese Company” shares Gentine’s commitment to family values, hard work and compassion. The story also highlights the role of three generations of Gentines turning a Wisconsin-based business into a thriving, global company by redefining the meaning of “family business.”

Told from the viewpoint of the Gentine family, the book places the reader in Leonard Gentine’s shoes as he advances from young man to old age and discovers life’s foundational lessons. Along the way, he endures outstanding debts, vast disappointments and a collection of small businesses.

From these experiences, Leonard Gentine formed his own simple philosophy: “Hire good people and treat them like family.”

Insight magazine highlighted the company’s culture and philosophy in an August 2011 cover story.

The book explains how Leonard Gentine dedicated himself to treating his employees like family, and the philosophy came full circle when the employees saw him as part of their own family. This belief, a defining one for Sargento, proved to be only one of many tenets underlying his success. It is the story of Sargento but also of its employees who took Leonard Gentine’s vision and nurtured it into a formidable company.

The book was written by Tom Faley, a 29-year employee of Sargento, who relates much of the story from a firsthand perspective and shares many of the private conversations he had with Leonard Gentine .

“Leonard’s philosophy of ‘hire good people and treat them like family’ still lives on today at Sargento,” Faley said in a press release announcing the book. ” I was truly honored and privileged to write about this wonderful journey of the Gentine family.”