C&S Through the Years

1918
Israel Cohen and Abraham Siegel establish a small grocery warehouse in a three-story brick building on Winter Street in Worcester, MA. They name their new business “C&S.” With just three employees, they stock and deliver 1,200 products to stores and markets throughout the city.

1929
Worcester's Blackstone River floods the C&S warehouse, destroying its entire inventory.

1930
C&S moves to a drier facility on Hygeia Street, in a warehouse twice the size of the Winter Street facility.

1939
World War II begins. Lester Cohen, Israel’s son, serves as a B-24 navigator in the Pacific. From this experience, Lester sees an opportunity for C&S to work with commissaries on military bases. By 2008, C&S is servicing 19 bases.

1940s
America’s retail food industry undergoes a transformational change, as “supermarkets” begin to attract customers from the smaller Mom and Pop grocery stores that had served America for decades. Meanwhile, C&S introduces an efficient “roller system” in the warehouse to streamline operations. C&S also introduces the revolutionary idea of staffing trucks with just one employee who works as both driver and salesman, cutting delivery costs in half.

1955
C&S moves to a 35,000 square foot warehouse in Worcester.  By now, Lester is working full-time with his father. Seeing his son’s energy, talent and drive, Israel Cohen gives him executive responsibility for the entire company.

1958
C&S wins the Big D supermarket account. Serving this eight-store chain signals the beginning of C&S’s transition from a supplier of small independent stores to a large wholesale company serving supermarket chains.

1963
C&S outgrows its warehouse and moves to a 200,000 sq. ft. facility on Pullman Street, former home of the famous Pullman train cars.

1970s
Rick Cohen joins the company. C&S builds a facility in Brattleboro, Vermont to service chain stores more competitively.  As a result, sales explode, reaching $14 million in 1974.

1974
C&S establishes a relationship with United Way and begins supporting local health and human service organizations. This marks the beginning of the company’s community involvement and corporate giving programs.

1980
C&S chose America’s Second Harvest (now Feeding America) as the company’s primary national partner for food donations to millions of families in need. Over the next three decades, C&S will donate an estimated 2 billion pounds of food.

1985
C&S launches its annual Charitable Golf Outing to fund organizations that help children with cancer.

1988
The company wins Stop & Shop’s frozen food business and builds a huge freezer unit at its Brattleboro facility. The same year, C&S acquires the dry grocery business for Waldbaum’s Food Mart, a division of A&P.  Sales reach $540 million.

1990s
C&S continues to add national and regional customers, including Wal-Mart Super Centers, Pathmark, A&P’s Superfresh stores, Grand Union, Shaw’s, Safeway, Big Y, Giant Foods and many others. The company’s warehouses increasingly include massive freezers and refrigerators for dairy, meat and frozen foods.

1991
Annual sales reach $1 billion.

2001
C&S purchases 192 Grand Union stores, keeping 30 as Grand Union Family Markets and selling the majority to other grocery retailers.

On September 12, C&S drivers deliver truckloads of bottled water and granola bars to Ground Zero for the first response teams helping at the scene.

Annual sales top $8 billion.

2002
C&S launches its community-based mini-grant program, with requests for support reviewed and decided on by local C&S employees.

The company opens facilities in Harrisburg and Chester, NY

2003
Eighty-eight C&S Associates participate in Make A Difference Day, beginning an annual tradition for the company. Associates also launch an annual food donation program to mark Hunger Awareness Day, collecting thousands of tons of food for hungry kids.

The American Red Cross honors the company as a Platinum Sponsor.

2004
Forbes magazine ranks C&S as the 10th largest privately held company in the nation.

The company establishes “Dollars for Doers,” a program that honors employees by donating money to organizations they volunteer for in proportion to the hours they serve.   

The company is named New Hampshire’s Philanthropist of the Year.

2005
The company expands into the Southeast, acquiring facilities in Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. It boosts its retail holdings with the purchase of Southern Family Markets.

In September, C&S mobilizes to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, sending dozens of trucks loaded with fresh water, ice and food to the Gulf area; our trucks arrive days before any government assistance.

2006
Annual sales reach nearly $20 billion, as C&S expands its relationship with A&P and wins the frozen food business for Albertson’s stores in Northern California.

America’s Second Harvest names C&S "Grocery Distributor of the Year."

2007
In April, Lester and Rick Cohen are inducted into the Food Industry Hall of Fame.

C&S receives the “Hero Award” from the national childhood literacy organization “First Book” for outstanding commitment to children.

2008
C&S co-sponsors a leadership conference for the hunger organization Share Our Strength; over 300 activists from around the country attend.

The company achieves its best-ever year, earning record profits.

2009
Wholesale Innovator of the Year: The Griffin Report for Food Marketing

1st in our industry and 28th overall in the Dave Thomas Foundation’s 3rd annual ranking of the nation’s 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces.

2010
Target Corporation, Partner Award of Excellence

Cornerstone Award winner, New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility.

Business of the Year, Keene, N.H. (Corporate HQ location) Chamber of Commerce