When Art Ruttan started selling frozen fruits, toppings and related items in 1958, under the name of A. Ruttan Sales Co., little did he know that his small beginnings would grow and eventually become part of Miller & Smith Foods, one of Canada’s leading suppliers of frozen fruits and many other products, to the Food Service and Food Processing industries.
In the early 1960’s Art Ruttan moved his office from Overend Street to the old Terminal Warehouse building, which now forms part of Toronto’s Harbourfront complex. Later, in 1967, Peter Smith started up W.P. Smith Trading Ltd., a business that was similar to, but did not compete with Ruttan, so he was able to rent a small cubicle in Ruttan’s one-room office for $25 per month, including a desk and a chair.
Although both businesses dealt primarily in fruits, they were complementary rather than competitive. Smith Trading handled a variety of other products including gherkins in brine, silverskin onions, tomato paste and was based mainly on commission sales, whereas Ruttan operated mostly on buy/sell or inventory sales.
As a result of following a policy of honesty in business, fair pricing, good service and hard work, both businesses expanded. By 1970, Smith Trading was established and eventually purchased A. Ruttan Sales.
A deal was made in 1972 and the present Miller & Smith Foods was formed with Ron Miller.
By continuing to concentrate on quality products, integrity and good service, the business grew and further expanded its range of products to include fruit juice concentrates and a variety of related products for food processors, bakeries and the food service industry in general. During the 1970’s Miller and Smith became Canada’s leading exporter of frozen cherries and frozen whole kernel corn to the United Kingdom. In the early 1980’s Charles Masson of Montreal was expanding his frozen fruit business and acquired Peter Smith’s shares in Miller & Smith to help expand his rapidly growing business into the Ontario market. Ron Miller and Charles Masson’s retirement in the early 1990’s brought more changes and the company was transitioned to David Masson and Rennie Asada and, where today, it is now owned by Rennie Asada.
With the advent of the US and Canada free trade agreement and NAFTA and as well the freight deregulation that was occurring, the markets shifted toward North American sourcing. The tomato business expanded very rapidly, where now Miller & Smith is Canada’s largest importer of tomato for processing.
The business expanded with the purchase of several storage facilities in the Toronto area of nearly 100,000 square feet, Dorval Refrigerated and Distribution Services of Toronto by 2007.
Suntrade International, an established fruit juice brokerage owned by Rick MacNeil and Lou Vitkov was acquired in 2010 to help solidify the juice business and sales expanded to approximately $70 million annually.