Finding a cure for diabetes is good business and a personal mission.

Scott Florence, CEO & President of Hill & Valley, Inc.

Scott Florence, CEO & President of Hill & Valley, Inc.

(Rock Island, IL) – For the CEO of America’s largest exclusive manufacturer of sugar free deserts and snacks, the decision to focus on the core diabetic market has been more than just a business decision – it’s personal.

“Diabetes has run in my family for generations,” says CEO/President Scott Florence. “My father has Type 2 (adult onset), and my uncle died in his ‘30s of Type 1 or juvenile diabetes.”

Although the 43 year-old Florence does not suffer from the disease, his family history has created a sense of mission that goes beyond just profit. “The epidemic worries me. I worry about my family’s health and its impact on our children and our society.”

An American Epidemic
The American Diabetes Association estimates almost 24 million people in the United States have diabetes, an increase of more than 3 million in two years.

This means nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, mostly the type-2 diabetes linked with obesity, poor diet and a lack of exercise.

“When my father-in-law founded the company, our initial focus was on a wide variety of traditional pies and desserts. But early on, it became apparent of the burgeoning need for sugar-free snacks and desserts for those who needed to reduce sugar in their diets.”

Bringing Diabetics Back to the Table
After Hill and Valley’s 2005 acquisition by New York-based Circle Peak Capital, Florence was promoted to President and CEO, and together with new leadership, relaunched the Hill and Valley brand – including a vigorous commitment to improved product quality and taste, as well as a renewed priority to listen to diabetics and their families. The result has been a line of sugar-free and no-sugar-added (NSA) products that tastes as good as full-sugar varieties.

“I spent my entire childhood watching family diabetics at get-togethers either forgoing mom’s cooking or cheating by eating full sugar deserts because there were so few sugar-free choices that tasted good. Today, my goal is to bring diabetics back to the table and provide a product the entire family will enjoy. We advocate that our customers follow doctor’s orders and use common sense regarding diet choices, but they deserve the best when they can indulge in a snack.”

Winning Taste and Hearts
If blue ribbons are any measure, Hill and Valley is wining taste tests and fans. The 2009 American Pie Council/Crisco® National Pie Championships judges picked Hill & Valley pies as the first place winner in six categories – a corporate best. “These awards truly vindicate on our emphasis on new ingredient technology to create the best tasting sugar-free and NSA pies in the market. Because our pies are judged against the high standards of traditionally made pies, we are thrilled with the results.”

Commitment to a Cure
In addition to winning awards, the Midwest-based organization, lead by Florence, has also begun addressing relevant health issues that plague diabetics by becoming a national promotional sponsor of the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes held in communities across the United States. Step Out is the ADA’s signature fundraising event, mobilizing Americans to live healthy lifestyles and raise money to fight the disease.

“We have our own corporate team here at headquarters that has raised thousands of dollars for our local ADA,” says Florence. But in addition to employee involvement, H&V approached its retail partners in nearly 20 cities for 2009 to help promote walks in their respective communities.

“Yes, our goal is to grow, but it’s also about more than snacks and desserts. It’s about finding a way to improve the quality of life for diabetics. I am very gratified by our leadership’s support of these efforts, and I want my kids’ life expectancy to exceed my own.”

It’s a corporate mission and responsibility he feels passionate about – and apparently his diabetic father approves. “Sure, I get calls from dad now and again. He enjoys having the ear of the CEO. His perspective is invaluable, and he’s never been one to be shy or share his opinions on our business.”

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For additional information, or to arrange for an interview with Mr. Florence, please click here.

Photography of Scott Florence, CEO of Hill & Valley, Inc:

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