IFD first came into existence as Indianhead Frozen Foods in 1947 when brothers Voigt P. Gillett and Richard (Dick) Gillett opened a frozen food locker plant at 10 Platt Street in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Some time prior to 1947, the State of Wisconsin Department of Tourism divided the state into seven districts from which they managed tourism marketing for the state of Wisconsin. For example, there was the Door County district, Wisconsin Dells district and the Indianhead district, which is where the name derived.
The business prospered, and by 1952 the brothers had expanded into both retail and wholesale distribution with the introduction of Bird’s Eye frozen vegetables.
Over the next five years the company transitioned from direct driver sales to a pre-sell structure. In 1976, the Gillett brothers were ready to pass the business on to the next generation and sold the company to Ed Ackerman and Tom Gillett (son of Voigt).
Within two years the retail business was sold off to focus on the wholesale distribution side. In an effort to facilitate further development, Indianhead Frozen Foods joined Nugget Brands, a national purchasing cooperative based in Sacramento, California, in 1982. Continued expansion necessitated moving to a larger facility, also in 1982, at 1807 Oxford Avenue in Eau Claire. The new building was conveniently located across the street on the opposite corner from where the business was first established.
After settling into the new and larger facility, re-entering the retail business seemed a natural progression for the blossoming business. Sensing a need for a place where foodservice customers and the general public alike could obtain the products that were previously only available through truck delivery, the Cash ‘n Carry store was opened in 1984. Wholesale distribution, however, still remained the primary emphasis of the company. In 1985 the company was renamed Indianhead Foodservice Distributor to more accurately reflect their efforts.
Throughout the 90s, Indianhead Foodservice Distributor continued to grow due in part to the acquisition of Nathe’s Wholesale Meats in Winona, Minnesota. Once again the need for a larger facility lead to the relocation of the business to a building that was previously occupied by Armour, located just off Birch Street in Eau Claire. This location remains their home today.
By their 50th anniversary (1997) Indianhead Foodservice Distributor had grown to employ more than 80 people and had initiated the planning of a 28,000 square foot warehouse addition and a new, larger Cash ‘n Carry store (renamed IFD Warehouse Store) which would be completed in 1999. That same year, the name Indianhead Foodservice Distributor was simplified to IFD.
In 2000, IFD joined UniPro Foodservice, Inc, the leading foodservice distribution network in the United States. This partnership would allow IFD to compete more aggressively in the foodservice marketplace. The acquisition of A.J.Busch in Mankato, Minnesota, and Zeches Institutional Supply in Winona, Minnesota, helped IFD to expand their delivery territory. Their diligent efforts in the industry did not go unnoticed. In 2005 IFD was awarded Unipro Foodservice’s “Distributor of the Year” Award, an award they would win for three consecutive years running (to date).
By IFD’s 60th anniversary (2007), the company employed over 150 personnel and was awarded Unipro’s Foodservice Distributor of the Year for a third time. To better serve their growing customer base, further expansion gives way to a groundbreaking in 2008, followed by the construction a 25,000 square foot expansion of the freezer, cooler, and refrigerated loading dock.
In 2013, IFD completed the construction of the dry warehouse expansion. The following year, Todd Nordlund was elected President of IFD by the Board of Directors. Tom Gillet assumed the title of Chairman of the Board and Chief Creative Officer. The same year, IFD won Paragon Award for Economic impact from the Eau Claire Development Corporation.
In recent years, management has progressively downplayed the use of the full moniker (Indianhead Foodservice Distributor) to IFD to avoid any negative characterization. The three letters “IFD” are accentuated in our current logo.
Continuing the growth trend, IFD expanded the freezer and cooler portion of the warehouse, adding an additional 12,000 square feet in the spring of 2020.
Today IFD offers more products, provides more services, and successfully serves more customers than ever before. Continued growth and expansion notwithstanding, the company’s original philosophy "when our Customers are satisfied, we succeed" still holds true and serves as the foundation for our mission - to "continue to grow as a broadline foodservice distributor through satisfied Customers!"
313 Hastings Place
Eau Claire, WI 54703