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San Francisco’s BiRite Foodservice Distributors Gives Back to Community: Celebrates 50 Years in Business

Amelia Levin, 07/19/2016

Bill and Steve Barulich (3rd and 5th from left) and other members of the BiRite team presented a contribution to Ohlhoff Recovery Programs of San Francisco during a luncheoun in June 2016. Ohlhoff was one of ten charities that were each presented a $50,000 donation. Ohlhoff has provided substance abuse recovery programs to male adults and adolescents for more than 50 years. Executive Director Arlene Stanich-Prince (center) and Board Chair Tim Gibbons (2nd from left) were on hand to receive the contribution on behalf of the program.

BiRite Foodservice Distributors celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer with a series of company and charitable events that will continue through the fall. Founded in 1966 by Victor Barulich and cousin John Barulich, BiRite has grown from a small supplier to coffee shops in San Francisco to one of the premier distributors in the Bay Area supporting a wide range of foodservice operations, including many high-end independent restaurants.
“We came from very humble beginnings and have experienced great joy and gratification in nurturing and growing our family business,” says the company’s CEO Bill Barulich, who runs the company with his brother Steve Barulich, who is president.
“The company’s founders taught us a great deal during this journey. Forging meaningful customer relationships, treating business partners and associates with respect, and adhering to a guiding set of principles that remain an integral part of BiRite’s DNA. Most importantly, we learned that we had a social responsibility to respond to members in our local community who require our help and assistance,” said Barulich.
In honor of this philosophy and its 50 years in business, BiRite is supporting a number of different charities, many of whom have longstanding relationships with the company. BiRite hosted its “Gratitude and Giving” luncheon at John’s Grill in San Francisco in June, during which the company distributed $500,000 in the form of checks for $50,000 each to ten San Francisco area charitable organizations that have demonstrated a profound impact on the lives of others who are disadvantaged or marginalized.
“We have been blessed, and it continues to be an honor and a privilege to participate and to be fully engaged in our local community,” says Barulich. “My parents and their parents came from humble beginnings and worked very hard to make sure we lived comfortably and supported us through love, education, and an ability to participate in business. They instilled the importance of sharing with those around us and we have been fortunate to be able to give back to the Bay Area where we have grown up, worked, and raised our families.”
The 10 charities at the luncheon included:
Delancey Street Foundation, a nonprofit providing residential rehabilitation services and vocational training for substance abusers and convicted criminals,
Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco,
GLIDE Memorial Church,
The Jewish Home of San Francisco,
Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, a provider of alcohol and chemical dependency treatment services,
Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center for disabled citizens,
Project Open Hand, a nonprofit providing meals to the sick and elderly,
Sisters of Mercy,
The St. Anthony Foundation, and the
St. Vincent De Paul Society of San Francisco.

“When making our selections, we chose organizations with whom we have had the longest history with our company, but we also tried to be as inclusive as we could, included a number of different religious and non-religious organizations serving individuals struggling with homelessness, disabilities, or other challenges,” says Barulich, who, along with other company execs and employees, has served on various nonprofit boards and donated trucks, products, and other necessities to these organizations in addition to financial contributions.

Members of the BiRite team posed with representatives from the charities that participated in the "Gratitude and Giving" luncheoun in June 2016.

In honor of its 50th anniversary, BiRite will also host a carnival-inspired event for its employees in August, and in November will hold a concert and dinner event for customers. In addition, going forward, the company — and Barulich personally — plans to continue giving back to different charities. Outside of work, Barulich and his wife manage a charitable foundation. All three of their children live in the area and are also involved in helping different organizations.
“It’s remarkable what we have learned as a result of our participation in these organizations; we have great admiration for the organizations we serve and with the passion they each show to their causes,” he says. “BiRite truly is a local business and we are proud of our philanthropic history as we celebrate this milestone event.”