FERNDALE (WJRT) -
(05/07/14) - Seventeen years ago, a metro Detroit man began making salsa in his restaurant.
Word spread, and soon he was producing it by the gallons - and then tons.
Now, you can find his products all over the world.
Garden Fresh is located in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale. From a humble start, it has grown to become a top selling salsa.
"No, no, never in a million years would I figure we would grow into something this quickly," said Jack Aronson, Garden Fresh Gourmet president.
Aronson loves to wander through the Garden Fresh Gourmet facilities, seeing workers prepare the fresh vegetables that will go into the the 20 varieties of salsa made there.
"We're the largest producer of refrigerated salsa in North America," he said.
There are also 20 types of hummus and eight dips made there.
In metro Detroit, 425 employees make products that are being sent to all 50 states, Canada, France, South Korea and Japan - but it wasn't always this way.
Aronson began making salsa from a recipe he created in his little restaurant in 1997.
"It became real popular," he said. "I started selling pints of it out of the restaurant."
Because Aronson hates preservatives, he needed a way to extend the shelf life of the salsa without ruining the flavor like typical heat pasteurization can. The answer came with a high-pressure pasteurization device that doesn't affect the flavor, but triples the shelf life.
"There are 100 in the world. We have two of the 100 and the only two in Michigan," he said.
"I actually taste all day long and I never get tired of tasting our products," said Michelle Jones, quality control manager.
"People just love it. I always have people asking for it, if I can get a deal on it, where I can find it," said Matt Lindhardt, lead manager.
The success of Garden Fresh Gourmet has attracted the attention of international food companies. They have offered to buy out Aronson and move operations out of Michigan.
"Yeah, we're staying here. We're not for sale," he said.
Aronson is very loyal to his workers and the Ferndale community where he grew up.
"I like the people here. They're not like anywhere in the world. Right here in Michigan," he said.
"The family wants to stay and keep it a family business. People are very proud of him for that," Lindhardt said.
"I guess we're the real American dream," Aronson said.
You can find Garden Fresh products in major supermarkets and specialty food stores.