Last updated on March 25th, 2021 at 07:19 pm
DPI Specialty Foods’ Tom “Tommy” Ilharreguy will retire Friday after 63 years of service to the California-based company.
Working in and with grocery stores has been part of Ilharreguy’s life since his first after-school job during his teen years when he was a box boy for Safeway in its Sunset Boulevard store in Los Angeles. After graduating from high school and completing tours of duty in Asia as part of his Navy service, Ilharreguy was hired in October 1953 by Morrie Rosenfeld and joined the Dairy Fresh organization, DPI’s predecessor; he started work at the company’s offices that were located on 6th Street in Los Angeles.
llharreguy’s first role was as a driver and dispatcher, but he soon found himself involved in other areas of the business—from cutting wheels of cheese to filling and delivering product. In 1967, he assumed the sales manager position. Ilharreguy worked through the evolution of Dairy Fresh and Ever Fresh Foods and, from 1984-85, ran Peacock Cheese on La Cienega Boulevard on behalf of Dairy Fresh.
Ilharreguy was promoted to VP of sales in 1985 and the company, now known as DPI Specialty Foods, moved from Los Angeles to its current location in Ontario, California, in 1986. Ilharreguy eventually moved into an account executive role and helped create and sustain sales for a number of the major retailers in Southern California, including Stater Bros, United Western Grocers, Ralphs, Food 4 Less and, most recently, Gelson’s. His contributions have helped DPI Specialty Foods become one of the top three specialty food distributors in the U.S., according to the company.
Ilharreguy has been a member of the Dairy-Deli-Bakery Council for more than 40 years. During his career, he served on the group’s board of directors from 1991-93 and received a number of accolades from the organization, including the Big Cheese Award in 1998, a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and a 60 Years of Service Award to the Perishable Food Industry in 2014.
Ilharreguy and his wife Pat married in 1951 and are celebrating their 65th anniversary this year. They moved to Whittier, California, in 1956, where they raised two sons and two daughters. They also have six grandchildren and one great-grandson. In retirement, the couple plans to spend time with family, with some travel and adventure along the way.