Sophia Foods is a family-owned specialty food distributor founded in 1991. It strives to bring specialty products from around the world to consumers at low prices. GSP is vital in allowing Sophia Foods to keep prices competitive.
Sophia Foods was forced to lay off workers each of the last two times Congress allowed GSP to expire. In 2011, it laid off two workers when profits plummeted due to higher tariff costs. As detailed in the 2014 GSP expiration impact survey report (featuring owners Candace and Danny Abitbul on the cover), GSP expiration in 2013 forced Sophia Foods to lay off two employees (out of 7) and implement a hiring freeze. The company also put plans to purchase a warehouse and expand its space on hold until it was sure about the future of the business, which was so closely tied to GSP renewal.
As Candace has noted, the uncertainly associated with GSP renewal/expiration can create paralysis for small businesses:
Stability is the key here. The living in limbo was the worst part of the GSP non-renewal period. We couldn’t move forward, but hesitated to move backward too much without knowing what might happen. It felt like a huge part of our cash flow was being held hostage, and making sound business decisions became increasingly impossible as time wore on.
With GSP back in place, Sophia Foods was able to hire 2 workers to fill the positions eliminated during expiration – and then add 2 more new positions. It increased benefits for all employees and doubled its square footage by expanding into neighboring warehouse space.