Summit Hill Foods is the new corporate name for Rome-based Southeastern Mills. The name change comes after months of consultations with employee teams, shareholders and some of the company’s major customers.

Dubbed “Project Evolve” the new name was chosen to be more reflective of exactly what the company does.

“Our old name limited us geographically and strategically,” said Summit Hill Foods President Peter Hjort. He believes the new name will be both friendly and engaging to a broader community and help showcase the company as a global brand.

“When you see Southeastern Mills on a business card it doesn’t really indicate we’re in the food business,” said Jason Marion, vice president for human resources. “We really wanted to focus on that aspect of who we are.

“It is a friendly, approachable name that references our commitment to superior quality while respecting our heritage,” said Elisa Gumbel, director of customer engagement and insights.

Marion said that “summit” can be used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, summit reflects the high expectations of the high-performance commitment of the company. As a verb, Marion said, it reflects the company’s willingness and commitment to continue to scale the peaks of growth and excellence.

“As we move forward together we will continue to lean on our great people, our industry expertise and our principles and core values that support our high performance workplace,” said Marion. “We will continue to be a place that remains grounded in the values that were first put in motion 80 years ago.”

Founded in 1941, the company has expanded greatly over the past two decades and now has major manufacturing bases in Rome, New Iberia, Louisiana, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Summit Hill Foods has experienced solid growth across all of it’s brands including Better Than Bouillon, Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce, Southeastern Mills, Shore Lunch and Better Than Gravy.

Consumer products on local grocery shelves will retain the brand names consumers know today, including the Southeastern Mills-branded mixes. Foodservice customers can expect all custom products to shift under the Summit Hill Foods brand.

Retired Rome businessman Billy Johnson remembers when a group led by his father, Fred Johnson, and Jim Austin bought the old Theo Stivers Milling company in 1941 and changed the name to Southeastern Mills.

Johnson served as president until he died in the 1960s. Then Austin took over operations and ran the company until it was sold to Vernon and Gaynelle Grizzard in 1972. The company has remained in the Grizzard family ownership ever since.