Women & Business February 2017: Elaine M. Bellin
Bellin is President and CEO of Paragon Foods.
Elaine M. Bellin
President and CEO
Specialty food companies have been on the rise with an increase in demand for clean foods and more and more consumers interested in local and organic produce. One such company is Paragon Foods, a family-owned establishment that was founded in 1962 and has been led by President and CEO Elaine M. Bellin for the past 23 years.
Paragon provides fresh produce, dairy, meat, seafood and gourmet products to restaurants, hospitals, grocery stores and universities throughout Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia.
In 2015, the company introduced JustCut, a certified fresh-cut produce division that provides precut fruits and vegetables to clients ranging from large grocery store chains to independent eateries. JustCut produces mostly to-order fruits and vegetables daily, so clients receive fresh produce with a maximum shelf life.
“There is a strong commitment to clean foods – both organic and local,” says Bellin. Clean foods are as close to their natural form as possible and undergo little processing or refinement. “These, along with specialty foods, have shifted from the exception to the norm.”
Bellin says she enjoys “looking for growth opportunities through acquisitions, product development and product consolidation,” so she approached this increasing demand for clean foods with a positive determination.
“Challenges are opportunities for the making,” says the Pittsburgh native and University of Dayton alumna.
This attitude has proven beneficial for Paragon. Bellin’s long-term vision and strategy has helped the company adapt and become one of the region’s leading providers of fresh and specialty foods. Her work also earned her recognition as a Bishop Canevin High School Distinguished Alumni in 2015.
While these are certainly noteworthy accomplishments, Bellin says she is most proud of “assembling a very talented and passionate management team.”
As for her business goals, Bellin says she hopes “to be recognized as a leader with a deep commitment and passion for quality.” Given her achievements and Paragon’s success thus far, it’s likely she already is.
For other women seeking success in the workplace, Bellin suggests they remain assured in both themselves and their work.
“Be true to yourself and confident in your work,” she says. “Develop an authentic work style that reflects your talent.”