All in the Family
As far back as 1882, the Hawkins family has been in the food business. But not until just after WWII, did Ed Hawkins Sr. receive the inspiration that would lead to the great taste customers have come to expect from Litehouse products.
1949 Answered Prayer
In 1949, Ed was a chef in Spokane, WA when his boss complained about the poor quality of the blue cheese dressing they served on salads. Ed responded to the challenge by praying about it. The answer to his prayer was a blend of mayonnaise, spices, crumbled blue cheese and buttermilk. To his knowledge, his original recipe was the first creamy blue cheese dressing.
1958 Buying the Restaurant
In 1958, Edward and his wife Lorena purchased Hurschell’s Lighthouse restaurant located on the shores of the Lake Pend Oreille in Hope Idaho, a tourist town with the population of 200 and a booming summer trade. People enjoyed the dressing served at dinner so much, they would bring in empty jars to fill with dressing to take home.
1963 Building a Business
In 1963 Edward and Lorena scraped together enough money to purchase 12 cases of jars and had Aunt Ethel Ashley design a logo for a label. The family mixed the dressing by hand in soup kettles. The first jars of Litehouse Salad Dressing were sold to the produce department of Rogers Thrift in Sandpoint, Idaho. A freshly made 16 oz. jar of Litehouse Bleu Cheese dressing cost $0.89 and Litehouse Thousand Island cost $0.79.
1978 Driving Growth
During the 1970s, Litehouse began to expand their distribution throughout the northwest. Until that time, sales and delivery were done by Doug and Edward Hawkins who would drive around the tri-state area stopping store to store. As the decade came to a close, Litehouse operations had outgrown their Datsun pickup truck. Rapid expansion required a larger space and more employees. The family decided to move the business to Sandpoint, Idaho, where it currently operates today.
1984 Driving Growth
In 1984, Edward Sr. passed away, and with him the family’s desire to be in the restaurant business. In 1988 with 12 retail products and facing no growth for 4 years, Doug and Edward Jr. developed a business plan expanding on what Litehouse did best: make great products and employ dedicated people to make these products.
1997 Driving Growth
With a strong portfolio of retail products, Litehouse merged with Chadalee Farms Inc. of Lowell, Michigan, a company with tremendous background in food service and horseradish products dating back to 1893.
During this era of changing landscapes in produce departments, Litehouse expanded its offerings of innovative products to include freeze dried herbs, meat marinades, dressing packs for salad bars, dips for vegetable trays, caramel dip, and other complementary food products.
1997 Driving Growth
In 2001, Litehouse leased the 50 year old Pend Oreille Cheese Company and started making handcrafted blue cheese as the ingredient for the famous blue cheese dressing. Soon afterward Litehouse started selling blue cheese crumbles and wheels in produce and deli departments.
2006 Passing the Torch
The founders of Litehouse believed that all of the people who make Litehouse great deserve to benefit in its success. That is why they transferred 30% of the company’s ownership to its employees in 2006 and 100% by 2014. Together, Litehouse employees share the hard work and rewards of building this company. Home-grown and home-sustained, we empower all members of our organization to spark the innovations and great new ideas that will propel us into the future.
2019-20 Portfolio Growth
In 2019 Litehouse acquired Sky Valley Foods, which included the Sky Valley and Organicville brands, expanding the portfolio of brands. Then, in 2020 Litehouse purchased Veggiecraft farms, to further diversify the portfolio.
Now – Onward and Upward
From a small restaurant to a leading producer and marketer of refrigerated salad dressings, cheeses, dips, sauces, and freeze dried herbs, Litehouse is a leader in the food industry with innovation and great consumer products, keeping a strong commitment to the employees and communities in which they operate.